They need some sort of food source, plenty of clean fresh water, shelter, and their herd. Shelter does not have to be man made, a nice shady tree can do the trick too, and the "herd" can be other horses, goats, or even human.
Yes, yes there is so much more involved like hoof care, teeth care, etc. But for the purposes of this post I'm going to focus just on the basics.
If those basic things are met, horses are generally happy, at least we humans assume this. It would be so much easier if they could talk "Hey you.. Human. Yah YOU, my
There are so many "horse people" out there, they all thing they know best. Heck, I KNOW, I know best! Ha ~ no not really. I just have the common sense stuff down.
I ask myself "If this 12x12 box with bars for windows was my home, would I like it if it was urine soaked, manure dirty, with little bedding?"
Or "mmm this green slime in this bucket sure adds a great flavor to my water."
I'm fairly sure everyone reading this would say "yuck! NO! are you crazy?"
So why when those of us who board our horses let BO's or BM's (not the body function) tell us that it's ok for our horses to stand in stalls for days/weeks/months at a time. Or make up excuses "oh your horse just likes to dump their water bucket that's why the stall is wet", or "We only give small amounts of hay because they soil it quickly."
Well this is what I've been dealing with for the past 9 months or so. It started late fall 2010 when I started noticing that water buckets were not full when the horses were in at 6:30 PM. At that time Rosie was in a 12x12 stall and it was ALWAYS wet with very little bedding. So bought extra bedding and put in there. Then they moved Rosie to a 12x18 stall. I thought that would be better all the way around. Boy was I wrong. As recently as 2 weeks ago I walked into her stall to get her. She was standing on bare rubber mats with a PUDDLE of urine in the middle.
From just after Thanksgiving to May the horses NEVER went out. Several of us boarders would show up at various times of the day/evening and all water buckets would be empty (each horse has two) and they would be hungry. They would get breakfast at 8 am - (2 flakes of hay and their ration of grain) then NOTHING until night feeding. Which from what I could tell was never regular.
I would turn my mares out while I cleaned the stalls, or scrubbed buckets. BO told me numerous times she didn't appreciate me turning my horses out. I ignored it. I could understand if it was muddy and they were destroying the pasture - it wasn't. Ground was often frozen.
There were a handful of us boarders who knew this wasn't the way to care for a horse, mostly the food and water part. We made agreements with each other to always throw at least 3 flakes of hay to each of our horses whenever we were there. We water every single horse in the barn every time we were there.
Fast forward to March 2011. Many horses started to develop thrush. The BO's advice was to soak the hoof in bleach/water (like put hoof in bucket of the solution?!?) then duct tape baby diaper to seal hoof. REALLY? Well I can understand if you don't know better as the horse owner, but the BO sure should know better.
I started putting my horses outside into round pen sized dry/mud lots to just get them out of their stalls. Bonnie was continually stocked up, and her first few steps out of her stall were always ouchie.
I had my vet come out and evaluate my horses and he told the BO the exact things I was. They need more hay and TURN OUT every day. I offered a solution of rotating horses in the the outdoor arena and she said "No - there is no harm in horses standing in their stalls like this".
For many many months now I have been cleaning my stalls, often times after they had supposedly been cleaned. I have also been feeding my own horses almost every day. Please don't think that I have a problem with cleaning/feeding my own horses because I don't.
I have a problem paying someone perform that service for me and it doesn't get done, or it's not done well.
The thing is, I believe most of the people in this barn have the same concerns I do, yet no one will speak up, except for me and maybe one or two others (out of 15). I keep reminding them that it's because of the dirty stalls, lack of turn out, and not enough quality feed that is causing their vet and farrier bills to be higher. Many of the horses have suffered severe cases of thrush which are 100% caused by the dirty, wet stalls they had to stand in for so many months.
I promised myself and my mares that they will not spend another winter in this place. This is why I'm so desperately exploring options and interviewing BO's.
Ok Rant Over...