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grass kept ponies

(14 Posts)
hurryup Tue 23-Aug-11 21:36:33

Please can I have some advice? After a nightmare winter last year with 3 ponies stabled, I've rented a 5 acre field and the 3 ponies are going to have to live out. There are plenty of thick, tall hedges and trees but no field shelter. I'm planning to rug them but not sure how many I'll need or what my routine should be. I remember a thread about some plastic hay feeding devices - a sort of pyramid design maybe but I can't remember the name??

CMOTdibbler Tue 23-Aug-11 21:52:10

Last winter, dpony and his field mates got a haynet twice a day (actually haylage nets to slow them down a bit), and he had a rug with fill when it was really, really cold, and a lightweight when it was just cold.
Its quite cute to see the ponies snuggled up together in the trees when its cold

Saggyoldclothcatpuss Tue 23-Aug-11 21:58:03

Right. What ponies do you have, breed/size, and what do you intend to do with them over the winter?
I have currently got 2 shetlands and 2.5 welsh As. They live out all winter. They only have rugs when it's snowing or freezing really hard. I don't feed them anything unless there is laying snow. As they are laminitis prone breeds, I run them skinny, (not thin or starving, just slightly lean) over the winter if I can. Even just on grass it's not that easy!
As long as they live out from around September, or whenever they start to throw coat, (mine are already) they will grow sufficient fur to see them through the worst of the weather.
If you want to ride them a lot over winter, I'd trace clip and rug when they start to get sweaty and wet through the fur when you have ridden them.
My friends warm blood lived out last year unrugged, it's not just the native fuzzy felts that can do it, you just need to rough them off properly.

Saggyoldclothcatpuss Tue 23-Aug-11 22:01:59

And be brave. Ive seen mine with icicles on them and panicked, wanting to whip out the rugs, but under the frost they had toasty ears and undercarriages!

MitchiestInge Tue 23-Aug-11 22:12:46

last year we suddenly got evicted, mid December I think, snow on the ground anyway and I was very anxious about my aged horse (pony lived out anyway) who always lost too much condition over winter but it was FINE

he did need about a million rugs and quite a lot of hard feed but he survived, in fact better than when stabled - I kept the hay rack filled too of course, did get through a LOT of that. Will have constant haylage this year, hooray.

you could also use a feed balancer like blue chip to get calories in, also oil

mine are also getting wintry coats already but nowhere near rugging stage yet

hurryup Tue 23-Aug-11 22:28:05

A 24 year old shetland - she can come in if weather is too harsh, 12 hh welsh section A so very hardy, a 13.1hh and 13.3hh NF ponies - so all hardy. Problem is that the 13.1 and 13.2's are in full work - both will be hunted and competed over the winter. I'm used to having them at home and coming in every night but practical and financial reasons mean it's not an option this year.

frostyfingers Wed 24-Aug-11 08:20:00

MY previous TB lived out all the time I had him, with the right rugs and enough feed (and even then it wasn't a huge amount) he was absolutely fine. My pony lives out, without a rug - even last year when it got to -18 here - and with hay to eat only for as long as the snow covered the ground. Ponies are not designed to be tucked up in stables and rugged to the ears, cute though they look! We rug more for our convenience to keep them clean. My vet has always said that it is better to slightly under rug a horse kept in a field as they can always gallop about to get warm, rather than have them sweating under too many rugs and catching a chill.

You could just do a bib clip - chin, throat and down between the front legs - when I was a child we did this to our ponies, they were hunted hard twice a week and only fed the evening of hunting and thrived (and one of those was a part bred arab).

You can only see how it goes and adjust food and hay accordingly, but I'm sure they'll be fine - you might get bored of it, but the ponies will probably be happier and fitter.

frostyfingers Wed 24-Aug-11 08:21:06

Meant to say that my new horse, another TB, will be living out although with access to a stable this winter despite having come from a racing yard and being very mollycoddled. In the time I have had him he has chilled so much, simply by being out rather than in.

Callisto Wed 24-Aug-11 09:52:37

DD's pony lived out last winter without a rug. He did have a field shelter though. He is 11.2hh section A/Sheltie and grew the biggest, longest coat I have ever seen. He looked like a ball of fluff on four legs. During the coldest bits of the winter he often had frost and snow on him, but underneath his coat he was as warm as toast - the frost just showed how well insulated he was.

I think in general all horses do better out, it is just a bit more work making sure they are properly rugged and fed. I second the idea of haylage haynets - much less wastage and lasts longer. Also, you can put fleece rugs underneath NZ's for extra warmth, and most rugs come with fastenings for high necks these days, which are really useful if it is wet. And of course, it is the wet + cold that is the worst for ponies.

Like Saggy's ponies, I've already noticed his coat is getting thicker - is this winter going to be a repeat of last year do you think?

Loshad Thu 25-Aug-11 22:54:22

Even for your 13.1 and 13.2 they will be absolutely fine out all winter. Back in the age of the dinosaurs when i was kid, children tended to have their ponies wintered out. My 14.1 fell tb cross wintered out all year, hunted twice a week (once by me on a sat, every wed by my aunt to rest her p2per) without NZ rugs (they barely existed) with a small bib clip. It was considered a real right of passage to move up to a proper grin horse that was clipped out and lived in.

kayb123 Fri 26-Aug-11 08:59:01

what i do is roll one of those round bales out in a fairly sheltered area.. feed daily as once snow comes i wont want to risk driving to much and when really bad our village is cut of, so by having a bale in field if the worse happens my boy wont go hungry. i dont rug (native breed) again incase something happen when im not there.

i do think some people do go over the top in winter and some yards dont even have turn out!!

im sure your ponies will be fine and good luck dont be to worried, it will all work out im sure.

olderyetwider Fri 26-Aug-11 09:44:07

I'm reading this with interest as I'm not sure how our new pony will take to being in this winter. She's happy enough in her stable, but it's a bit slippy in there and she gets very excited whenever there's food around so if she is going to come in I'll have to invest in rubber matting and am as skint as someone with 4 horses is bound to be!

She will definitely need a clip (probably trace, though will try just a bib) so I'd assumed she'd need to come in at night but maybe we can keep her out (would save a fortune)

Callisto Fri 26-Aug-11 10:58:17

I'm not sure whether to clip DD's pony or not this year. If I do he will still be living out, but with rugs rather than au naturel. A low trace clip is probably what I will go for with him too.

Must get some rug proof this weekend.

Mirage Fri 26-Aug-11 13:01:28

Apparently our 20 year old Welsh lived out all last winter and was very happyShe doesn't like being in.I'll be interested to see how thick a coat she grows.

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