|Stall Living or Turn-Out Living – Which One is the Best Life for Your Horse 圈养和遛马——怎样更有益于马的健康 |
“My horse stays nice and clean in his stall, and his coat looks great. He doesn’t get chewed-up by other horses, I never have to walk out in the rain or snow to bring him in, and his shoes stay on most of the time. I could turn my horse out, but why should I?”
This is a common reply when I ask horse owners in China why their horses live in a stall all day, every day, week after week, month after month and year after year. It is so boring and unhealthy for the horses mind and body!
Many horses live indoors except for a few hours of exercise each week, and most have adapted well to this life. However, it can’t be said that such a lifestyle is natural. Most large farm animals—cows, sheep, goats, pigs—are outside a most of the time. Horses are the only large species commonly managed as indoor animals. Horses have become “companion animals” just like cats and dogs except that they do not share our space at home. We put them in an equestrian center and create a little square apartment for them.
Most arguments for keeping a horse in his stall can be placed in the “easier for the owner” category. Few, if any, fall into the “better for the horse” category. Horses are nomads. In the natural environment they roam over 8 to 26 kilometers per day. They graze little and often for 16 to 20 hours per day eating low-quality, high fibre feeds, namely grass. There is nothing natural about living in a little box-like apartment.
肌肉骨骼系统 Musculoskeletal system.
It’s natural for horses to move as they graze and interact with their fellow herd members. They can cover a surprising distance during a day of moving from one choice patch of grass to another, even without the occasional top-speed, watch-me-buck run around the paddock. For young horses, research shows that free exercise contributes to the development of a strong skeleton. For older horses, the constant movement encouraged by turnout helps to prevent the stiffness and oedema in the lower leg that are common when horses stand in their stalls for long periods.
对习惯跟着同伴们一起走走停停吃吃早的马来说，运动是再自然不过的事情了。它们每天从一片草地，走到另一片草地，散步能走的路程之远，即使不算上它们全速奔跑，受惊而狂奔的里程，即便只是悠闲漫步，起里程也能让你大吃一惊的。 研究显示，能自由自在运动的年轻的马能有更强壮的骨骼。对年老的马来说，持续的运动，遛马能帮助它们帮它们强健骨骼， 减少浮肿，而骨质疏松，浮肿正是长期生活在马厩中的马最常遇到的问题。
马群的社交和压力 Socialization and stress
Horses are highly social animals, and many horses find it hard to relax if they can’t be with, or at least see, one or more other horses. Some horses are reluctant to lie down in a stall; maybe they feel they cannot watch out for predators, or possibly they feel the space is too cramped.
They are prey animals ( i.e. in ancient times they were food for other animals) and their instincts are still very strong. If they are frightened the first reaction is to run away, then stop and look to see if they should keep running or go back to grazing happily with their friends. In a stall they cannot run away and will experience a level of stress as their natural defense mechanism is removed. In addition, they may do the opposite of “flight” and if they are frightened react aggressively and “fight”.
Youngsters turned out in a group learn good manners and social order from the older horses. The respect taught by senior horses will make your trainer’s job easier because the young horse will already have learned that submission to authority is sometimes required. It will also make the horse safer in an environment where many horses are interacting with humans.
日粮和消化系统 Diet and digestive function.
A horse’s stomach produces gastric acid constantly. Large amounts of saliva buffer this acid, but saliva is produced only when the horse is chewing and swallowing. In the natural world horses eat a few bites in one place then walk a few paces and eat a few more bites of grass. This can go on for 18 hours every day which creates a functional normal digestive tract.
In contrast, after finishing their hay, stalled horses may spend hours before another flake is supplied, and unbuffered acid can quickly lead to the gastric ulcers that plague many barn dwellers. Grazing keeps a near-constant supply of roughage moving through the stomach, preventing ulceration and providing fiber that is essential to intestinal function. Horses with ulcers will be difficult to keep in good condition, may get colic frequently, refuse to eat their food, have a poor quality hair coat, be difficult to girth up tightly and not perform as well as they should. In short, they are in constant pain.
受伤与表现 Injuries and appearance.
Turned out one at a time, horses tend to get a few scratches and scrapes. Turned out with a few horse friends, they may suffer some kicks and bites. Most are not serious, but if it’s important to have your horse’s coat looking perfect, turning out must be managed well. Lots of exposure to the sun results in some bleaching and dulling of the horse’s coat, a consequence that can be avoided by turning out only at night. This is usually impractical in an equestrian club with many horses and a feeding programme that relies on horses being in the stalls each evening for the evening feeding routine.
If you are worried about how clean your horse is then be prepared for more grooming when you give your horse pasture turnout. Pastured horses will pick up everything from minor grass stains to impressive whole-body mud packs when they roll, so brushing and grooming may take quite a bit longer. Daily shampooing is the most destructive thing you can do to your horses coat. The horse has a natural flora which is essential to maintaining healthy coat and skin. Stripping out the natural oils and healthy bacteria on the skin will create the idea environment for disease. No more than once a month shampooing for optimum coat health. Do not use anything but a gentle horse shampoo. Harsh detergent or cheap human shampoo is not recommended for a healthy horse coat.
马蹄和马蹄铁 Hooves and shoes
Stalling is not a guarantee that your horse won’t pull off a shoe, although it’s true that thrown shoes are easier to find in a stall than in the field. Pastured horses feet will encounter some mud and wet grass; stalled horses spend part of each day standing in contact with urine and manure. It is far healthier for the foot to be exercised by walking around a turnout all day than to be still standing in a stall. The “frog” acts as a pump to help push blood and lymph back up the horses leg with each step. Long periods of standing still will often result in swelling of the horses legs. Obviously standing in urine or manure, which is rich in ammonia and bacteria, will create an unhealthy environment for the foot and predispose the horses’ feet to fungal infections and possibly growth abnormalities.
As long as their feet are in reasonable condition and regular trimmings are scheduled, barefoot horses don’t have major problems in the pasture except for the brief period of tenderness that is natural right after shoes are removed.
For thin horses or those recovering from illness, fresh grass provides a steady supply of calories and is more appealing to horses who are feeling unwell than dry hay. For overweight horses, free movement in the pasture tends to burn more energy than spending the same number of hours in a stall.
Stalled horses may be jumping with energy and excitement when they are taken out for their daily exercise. Pastured horses, having expended some energy in free movement, will often be quieter to ride or work. School horses will be more familiar with strange sights and sounds if they have spent time outside, and they are likely to be more balanced when negotiating uneven ground if they have encountered natural terrain in the field.
Most importantly, pastured horses are less likely to develop habits like weaving, pawing, kicking, and stall walking, behaviors thought to result from boredom and stress related to solitary confinement. We humans also develop psychological disorders when placed in solitary confinement. It is an animal welfare consideration that is gaining more attention. If we wish our horses to perform as Olympic athletes why are we housing them like prisoners? We seek a happy medium where mental stimuli and physical well-being of the animal can be balanced against our need for convenience.
Providing as much turnout as possible can offer significant advantages over stall life. In my experience, almost 90% of the problems that I treat are related to a lack of exercise. Turnout, the most natural type of exercise, is probably the easiest way to enhance your horse’s quality of life.
遛 种 公 马
If you build two turnout areas and put your stallion on one side and another horse on the other side they will both get hurt. One will try and bite or kick the other at some point and they will crash through the fence and get all cut and damaged. If people try and run in and stop them someone can easily be hurt.
Not all stallions can be kept in paddock turnout. Some like to live in a paddock with a horse friend they know very well, others will chase a second horse until it crashes through the fence and gets hurt. Stallions are territorial animals, the paddock belongs to them and they will chase anything (including humans) who come into the paddock or yard.
The size of the paddock also makes a big difference to its safety as does rounded versus 90 degree corners. There are a few rules with regard to turn out fences:
1. All horse paddocks must be constructed with lane ways in between.
2. All horse paddock management must be done correctly, manure picked up every day and any breaks in the fences fixed immediately.
3. All paddocks should have a safe waterer, lockable gate and a salt block.
4. Ideally the fence should be highly visible.
5. The traditional horse fences are constructed with wooden post and rail with additional electric fencing to make sure the horses respect the fence. There are now modern alternatives which are far easier to construct like the Magnum Pasture Rail fencing system.
These are a few rules if you keep stallions. If you do not obey the rules you will be putting your horse in danger.
In conclusion, complete turnout with free grazing is hard to manage in most Chinese equestrian centres. In these cases I would recommend the installation of a top-quality horse walker. These machines have a roof to protect the horses from sun and rain and a rubberized track to walk on for hoof protection. They can be set at a slow walking speed and up to 10 or 12 horses can be walked together which gives the horses social interaction whilst quietly walking. The benefits are obvious; the horses can get natural walking exercise in all weather conditions. Only one person is needed to exercise 12 horses at once. In very large equestrian centres there is opportunity for every horse to get exercised everyday without a rider.
If horses are low in the social order and are in danger of abuse from their herd mates, they may not do well in a turnout with higher socially ranked animals and a horse walker allows them to see other horses without being in danger.
For show animals whose coats must remain in unblemished condition, the horse walker roof keeps the sun or rain off the coat. It also allows the horses to be easily exercised when weather conditions prevent riding in outdoor arenas.
Regardless of the management system used, it’s worthwhile to cater to the horse’s nature by making turnout part of his daily schedule.
作者：凯瑟琳 · 戴维斯