Since Pie joined us at the end of October, he's been turned out all day and stalled at night, like all the other horses at our barn. Since he was ranch bred and lived outside as a foal and yearling, and also lived outside year-round at his prior owner's, coming in only briefly for feeding, he's never been all that comfortable in a stall. Our stalls are also fairly small - 10'x12'. Some horses are comfortable in stalls, like Noble was and Dawn is - they consider them safe havens and are horses that were or have been stalled for most of their lives. Also, Dawn is extremely cold-sensitive and when she did live outside (briefly when we first moved here), she had to be blanketed, and even double-blanketed, most of the time.
Also, the more I learn about horse health - digestive, hoof and respiratory, and mental welfare, the more I felt that Pie should live outside, with the freedom to move around. He clearly wasn't very happy in his stall - no stall vices or pawing, but I just got the feeling he didn't like it much and felt constrained. I think that, although he couldn't tell me this in words, one thing that bothered him a lot was that he had to lie in his own waste - he's a very neat, fastidious horse and managed to keep the manure to the edges but there wasn't much he could do about the urine. And despite using deep pelleted bedding, his hock sore (that clearly developed because he was stalled) is still bad (it's now Pie 2 - Hock Shield 0) and he often is slightly damp in the morning from lying in pee spots. He also doesn't drink all that well inside, despite the fact that we have heated buckets. And his feet seemed to be getting a bit softer from standing in soiled bedding. Also, when I get to the barn in the mornings, the air inside is very close and dusty, although we do everything we can to maximize ventilation our barn is poorly ventilated - not good for lungs and I'd like to keep him healthy.
When Lily lived here, since she had heaves, she lived outside in a nice-sized paddock with a run-in shed and a large heated water tank, as well as a large salt block. As soon as we can get things set up, perhaps as early as tonight, Pie is moving out there. He'll still be turned out for the day with the other geldings. I expect he'll be a bit lonely for his friends inside the barn for a night or two, but he's pretty adaptable and I think he will enjoy being able to have a separate bathroom area so he can lie down in a clean spot. He'll be able to have access to hay for most of the night, and can walk around, and he'll be able to see the night sky and all around - the paddock's at a high point with a view of the pastures and barn. I often would find Lily in the morning surveying things - I think she enjoyed that and I think Pie will too. In the spring, when things begin to thaw up, we'll add a truckload of pea gravel to the lower end of the paddock to cut down the mud, improve the drainage and give Pie some different surfaces for his hoof health.
Pie's also pretty cold-hardy - the wind chills are about 15F today but he's the only horse out without a blanket and is perfectly comfortable, despite there being no shelter in the dry lots. He will need blanketing or sheeting from time to time, but I'm around to see to it or can get one of the other boarders (or my long-suffering husband) to cover for me if I'm away. I expect he'll enjoy his new digs once he gets used to them, and I certainly will feel better about it. He'll still have an inside stall if it's needed for any reason, but I hope not to have to use it. I'm not sure why I took so long to realize that this was a better option for Pie, but sometimes I'm a slow learner.