Friday, July 22, 2011

Dings and Dents, and Wonderful Rain

One good thing about group turnout for horses is they get to interact with other horses.  One bad thing about group turnout for horses is they get to interact with other horses . . .

After I left Pie and Drift peacefully grazing together yesterday morning, they must have had a bit of an altercation.  Pie has a superficial scrape on his chest that could be due to a nip or a glancing kick.  He also has a big bite mark on his loin.  Drift came in with two matching scrapes and some minor swelling on each side of his chest - it looks like he may have bitten Pie and Pie then double-barrelled him.  They have to work out their relationship and I think it'll be fine - Pie was probably so focussed on grazing that he missed a signal from Drift to move out of his space.  Just dings and dents - the times when new horses join a group or a horse rejoins the herd after a long absence are when these mostly occur.  Some Novalsan and SWAT should do the trick.

Despite the risks of group turnout and although some horses do fine when only turned out solo,  I strongly believe that it's very important to equine mental health for horses to have the chance to physically interact with other horses, including the interactions that are part of establishing pecking order in the herd.  Horses are made to move - 24/7 if possible or the closest approximation that can be achieved - and they're made to live in herds while eating forage continuously.  Dings and dents come with the territory.  This morning, Pie was careful to move away whenever Drifter approached - with luck they'll be no more wounds to treat.

* * * * * *
Overnight some thunderstorms with heavy rain moved in, and it's supposed to rain heavily for most of the morning.  Usually, I'm not a big fan of rain - we have no indoor so it keeps me from riding - but this time I'm delighted.  It's been several months since we've had any significant rain, which is very bad for our part of the country especially with the very high temperatures we've been having.  We're supposed to have hot temperatures through the weekend - heat indices in the upper 90s, but it looks like Monday it'll be a bit cooler (maybe a ride?!) and the drought has broken.  It's raining, it's pouring . . .


  1. Yep, bites scrapes scratches and even stitches! My lot dont do too bad, however with the new addition, Wally, there will be a few days of chasing and kicking!

    Still has to be done!!

    I`m pleased the rain has come for you, maybe ours will stop, (10 weeks!) of the stuff.

  2. I'm a firm believer in as natural an environment for horses as can be achieved. Ours are out from early a.m. to about 7 p.m. everyday. A few bumps and scrapes are normal around here. Mostly it's Sami and Grady but I'm hoping to put an end to that soon.

    Glad you got some rain, hope it comes this way to cool us off.

  3. I envy your rain and hope that we get some, too.

    Harley was alone for most of his life so he did not seem to know horse language when I bought him. He was mercilessly bitten and scraped, but, much to the other horses' frustration, he did not seemed deterred by their efforts to move him around. I guess he was studying the language, because he is now the alpha, the kind that can just make a face and the other horse backs off. Being alone is very hard on a horse, so I am glad that he has a buddy now.

  4. Hopefully, you won't have any more injuries if they've worked out their pecking order now. It is certainly good for them to play together.

  5. I prefer groups turnout too, despite the dings and bangs....and here, the destruction of turnout "clothes." Mental contentment is an important part of horse management as far as I am concerned, and that means a herd. My guys also have 24/7 turnout, so that's another plus.

    Congratulations on the rain. It is much needed, I am sure. Our heat is supposed to break on the weekend. I hope so. It was hot even at midnight.

  6. I used to keep my horses separated all the time, Next to each other, but a fence between. I just hated the scrapes and bites! And if it's where the saddle sits- well, then there goes your ride till it heals.
    But I agree with Jean who mentions "mental contentment," and I have seen that time together as a herd - just hanging out and doing their thing together - does bring a contentment for each horse. Even though some rough horsie language/play gets used and results in scrapes & cuts.
    Great post! So glad to hear about your rain!

  7. I totally agree. Horses need a chance to be horses - including the dings and dents. Our herd of two occasionally has a small bite mark, but that's healthy.

    Glad you got some rain. We're finally getting our summer monsoon rains here in New Mexico.


  8. I get your weather about a day later. Yesterday was SO a little better and yes, rain is due to come later today and this wknd. Much needed.
    Group/Herds mostly get along. I had an issue where a bored, un used 3 yr old gelding was constantly following and biting Laz, non stop, I watched it for 45 minutes. It was relentless and I had to step and now they are not in a herd anymore. I agree, herd is best but sometimes its hard to find the right partnering if one is getting bullied constantly.

  9. Young horses that haven't been properly socialized by a herd are often more difficult for people to handle too. They just don't understand that they should move away from pressure and that they don't always get to have it their way.

    Human kids can have this problem too...

  10. I agree--horse's need that time in the herd. I wish they weren't so hard on each other sometimes--it's hard to watch, but necessary. :/

  11. Smokey is getting his share of dings and dents. I keep hoping I can convince them to be more diplomatic, but for now I settle for making them behave when I walk into the herd.

    A few drops fell here too, finally.

  12. I agree 100% with you. Horses need turnout with other horses. Even during Griffin's anti-social years in which he had to be turned out alone, I always made sure he was in a place where he could -- at the very least --interact with other horses over a fence if he chose to.
    My parents have 5 acres and have told me I could keep Grif there, but this is one of the main reasons I don't. I can't afford 2 horses at this time and I don't want my boy to be alone.
    (Thanks to the wonderful place I board right now) Griffin is now able to be out with a select group of horses and while he does ok by himself -- I know he really appreciates having the company.

    It rained here some yesterday too....and it was SOooo NICE after that godforsaken heat :) We need it too, it's been so dry...

  13. I completely agree, too, but you'd be amazed how many people don't want their horses out with other people. My barn has 20 indoor stalls, and all those horses get individual turnout -- little pens hardly much bigger than their stalls! And if anyone suggests turning their horses out in the arena to play, they act horrified. I know they are worried about injuries -- but personally, I think horses that are turned out in groups regularly, and know how to handle themselves with other horses, are far less likely to suffer major injuries in turnout.

  14. My mares have an ongoing pecking order display, as I can tell by the occasional bite marks on Chickory and Gussie- but never on Coyote Belle!

  15. I agree--I think the "dents" are worth the improved mental and physical health of the horse.

  16. For the past 30 years, I have run all of the horses in one herd. They are happy and quiet. It takes some time to work in a new horse, but it can be done without injury. Just like kids, there will be dings...but they have always worked out.


  17. Aww hopefully they have sorted out their pecking order now! And I agree with you about turning horses out as a group. It's all part of their natural instinct! I am following you now.


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