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Hello -

I recently moved my horse from an upscale show horse facility (where he was pampered) to a smaller family type of barn with a more relaxed environment. When he was at the hunter jumper facility he was only turned out for 3 hours per day alone and never when it was raining. I rode him mostly in an indoor or outdoor ring and occasionally on a very small trail on the property. At the new facility he is turned out all day and night (weather permitting) with another horse. He actually seems calmer and happier because he is outside so much. At this barn they do a lot of trail riding and less riding in the ring. He and I both really like the trails and going out with other horses but I wasn't sure if I should slowly transition him to the trail riding. He is a 14 year old Morgan and in very good condition because I ride him about 5 times per week. Also, should I polo wrap him for the trails? Are there any other behaviors to look for when changing facilities? I appreciate your help because I want to make sure I'm doing the right things for him.


-- D. B.


That ol' Morgan of yours must feel like he's died and gone to heaven! What more could a horse want? He's no longer shut in 21 hours a day; he actually has a horse for a herd mate; he's free to graze when and how he feels like it; he gets to see the moon, stars, and other night-time events that his eyes were uniquely designed to see. And to top it all off, he gets to take his rider out where they can see and do things that are interesting -- instead of riding in mind-numbing circles most of the time! Why on earth would you want to slow down his transition from imprisonment to pure bliss??!!

Granted, I'm probably biased (and what I'm about to say may make some folks pretty mad), but many of the "upscale" facilities seem to be oriented toward squeezing every possible gain for the human out of the horse -- with little or no thought about what the horse would like. As I say elsewhere on this site, "Of all the mistakes I've seen horse people make, the absolute biggest is this: They forget to have FUN!" This seems to be especially true of the stables where horses simply equal money and/or status.

As for polo leg wraps while you're on the trail, unless you're thinking of swinging a polo mallet at your horse's legs while you're riding, why would you need them? I suppose if your horse has such horrible leg action that he's frequently clipping his own legs, then they may be of some benefit. Otherwise, let his legs move and breathe unhindered.

Regarding behavioral changes to beware of, the only thing that comes to mind is that he may get to feeling so good that he'll want to kick up his heels or stretch out his legs in a full-blown gallop once in a while. I know that ol' Willy liked to feel his mane and tail blowing in the wind when he got limbered up and had a clear trail ahead of him.

Have fun in your new digs... and give that ol' boy a pat or two for me!

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