Horses are herd animals, no one will deny this. But since getting Foster in 2011, he and the others I’ve been caretaker of since then, have never been in a field with a “herd” of horses. I realize this is not everyone’s first choice, but for me, I feel that my horse is safer by himself or with one or two buddies, rather than in a large field with a gaggle of horses.
At previous barns, we had a hard time finding a buddy that would stick with Foster. Not that he’s some kind of bully, but that the couple options available (since others were settled in their own field) just didn’t pan out. So he would flit between being pastured alone, or with one buddy (which is his current situation, by the by).
Where I currently board, the setup is more attuned to solo turn out. The majority of the paddocks are too small to accommodate more than one horse, so both Riley and Smitty got (get) a paddock to themselves. Because of the gentlemen that they are, they share their fence lines with other horses, including mares, and I feel like they get plenty of interactive opportunities with the other horses. Based on the scuffs and scrapes Smitty comes in with, it’s obvious that he’s still finding plenty of play time while he’s out. And I get the satisfaction of knowing that serious injuries due to kicking, etc are limited due to his setup.
I certainly understand the “let horses be horses” mentality of large group turnouts, and if that’s your situation, I applaud you. Our farm has limited opportunities for group turnout, and I’m an OCD ninny after dealing with Foster’s issues and injuries, and have okayed myself to bubble wrap my horse in a solo situation.
What is your horse’s turnout situation? Do you mix mares and gelding? Are you limited by your farm’s setup? Or do you have specific preferences that dictate the occupancy limit of a pasture? Has the turnout situation for your horse ever caused problems, or have you noticed certain benefits in your horse based on a change in turnout arrangements?