Don't get me wrong, I love the convenience of a warm barn and a dry arena to work in.
It's no fun going out at twilight (5:00PM, these days) and wrestling with 5 large hungry horses at the gate just to get yours through. Then you still have to rake caked mud off his back, pull the wad of burs out of his forelock, get out your ice pick to chisel the mud or if it's later in the year, the glaciers that he's teetering on out of his hooves. . .all before riding. Pheww! At moments like these the idea of keeping him inside where he's dry and ready whenever you want him is pretty appealing!
But I love a horse that's outside! And this is why!
1. They get woolly! There's nothing quite so cozy on a winter's eve as hopping on bareback and sinking down onto a plump back (I'm thinking of my portly appy). Or draping an arm over your furry friend's back as he happily crunches his hay. That to me is real peace!
2. It's better for them. They need fresh air! Being inside a poorly ventilated barn is not good for their respiratory sytem. And if it's properly ventilated, then chances are. . .it's going to be cold...so why not have them outside anyway?!
3. They are calmer and more relaxed! Horses are not meant to have 20 minutes of turnout time a day! If they are outside all the time then when you get on and ride outside it's not such a big deal. You're not sitting on a firecracker, but rather, a horse with sense and that's nice! Unless you like firecrackers.
4. It makes them stronger and more balanced. If they work all winter with a variety of footing and through a couple of feet of snow, then come the show season they'll be ahead of the game. They'll be more sure on their feet and in better shape than if they'd wintered and trained primarily indoors.
5. It's Cheaper. Who couldn't use the extra couple hundred a month you could save! Just think of the really nice long underwear you could buy to keep you warm on those rides! So enjoy the winter and your horse!
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