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Horses seem to be locked out of their field shelter...?

16 replies

catsharingmychair · 02/03/2018 10:00


I just wondered what I should do about something (if anything). I'm expecting to be told it's none of my business and to leave well alone.

So here goes: there are two horses in a field near me - the owners do give them hay and there is a water trough (albeit frozen) on site - the owners do come up once a day to see to them, so they clearly do care.

The problem is that there is a double field shelter in the field (which sounds great). But the horses are locked out of this, day and night, whatever the weather. This is as there is a double gate that runs the whole way across the entrance to both shelter openings on the shelter. I imagine they must use one side for storage. The other side is empty, as when they ride, they put one in the empty side to tack up. So the issue seems to be that due to the very large gate - they can't leave one side open during the day/night. There is nothing to pin the gate back - they once used a plastic garden chair to try to hold it open during the horrendous rain we had about 2 months ago.

Last night when it was horrific outside, snow falling all night these ponies (one with rug, one without, possibly as it might not let the owner put one on??) had to huddle outside the shelters trying to use the overhanging roof line as shelter.

I'd like to offer the owners help.... if they had had any thoughts of removing the massive gate and swapping it for rails - maybe they can't find anyone to help lift it? Or to offer to help them clear the snow with spades and lug the huge gate open but I don't imagine for a second they will accept it - maybe they won't see there is anything wrong...maybe they'll just get abusive. I don't know.

I don't know the owners and they are not known to anyone nearby - I also don't know the land owner.

Any ideas gratefully received - hubby thinks I shouldn't get involved but seeing those ponies with no shelter is really upsetting. At least they have hay I guess....

Thanks for any thoughts..

OP posts:
bobstersmum · 02/03/2018 10:12

When I had my horses they lived out in all weather but came in at night from Nov till end of Mar. Water is essential for essential for horses so at the very least the ice needs to broken on the trough. Some horses are hardy enough to not need a rug as they will grow a very thick warm winter coat, and when very cold or wet they just turn their backs to the wind and huddle up. But these horses are not wild they have owners so I would think they should make the shelter accessible for them. It can be pretty miserable for any animal left out in this weather. Is the field mostly dry or is it very wet? Is there any natural shelter for them, is the field very open? Do the horses look cared for in general, are their feet trimmed etc?

catsharingmychair · 02/03/2018 11:53


Thanks for your reply - the field is very flat and so pools water easily- it has very little grass (due to the mud) which is why they pop large round bales of hay in.

There is very little natural shelter - no trees inside the field and just a hedge surrounding it with a bit of overhanging tree foliage- but not much as no real leaves. I can't see their feet but they appear looked after generally- their owners do turn up every day.

I was contemplating walking over (at least a mile in the snow) to see if their water trough is frozen - the owners arrive usually at around 5pm so if it is frozen they'll have nothing until much later. But to smash the ice would mean trespassing into the field...

I think I'm talking myself out of doing anything here- if they had no hay it would be different. I imagine there must be many horses in worse circumstances....I wonder if anyone takes hay to the New Forest ponies?

Thanks for your response x

OP posts:
GrowThroughWhatYouGoThrough · 02/03/2018 12:12

My MIL has 2horses and 1pony are out in this weather they have a shelter but don't use it the horses I mean as long as someone is going down to them everyday I wouldn't worry too much

Tralalee · 02/03/2018 12:13

I wouldn't worry. Sometimes one horse can bully the other in a field shelter so they may have done it in purpose

JellyMouldJnr · 02/03/2018 12:17

remember that horses are evolved to live outside in all weathers - some hate being inside! It's likely that their coats & rug are thick enough to keep them warm, and if they're getting hay I wouldn't worry about them.

BusterTheBulldog · 02/03/2018 12:29

If they have hay, and the water is being broken when owners down then I think they will be fine. There are horse by us out with no shelter, and just hay they are fine. My own horses do have a shelter but are currently in a new field with a swanky, massive new shelter which they are stubbornly refusing to use properly. I came down yest and they were in middle of field having dug out some grass despite there being hay in shelter!! They also often prefe to be under overhang rather than actually inside Confused

kingjofferyworksintescos · 02/03/2018 12:41

The owners visiting them just once a day isn't fine in this weather, if it was good weather they need to have a minimum of morning and evening visits but in bad weather more visits are needed as the ice needs breaking / water topping up numerous times per day to ensure they can drink and not become dehydrated , dumping a big bale of hay and letting them just get on with it sounds very rough and ready sadly it's probably poor quality hay that is getting lots of weather on it and being stomped into the mud . Seems mean to have a shelter available but not allowing them to access it . Not actually sure what you can do to help though other than your suggestion of offering to keep an eye on them

Veterinari · 02/03/2018 15:17

What kind of ponies are there? Native breeds will cope (though do need ice on trough breaking)
How do you know the owners are only there once/day if the Field is a mile away? They could be there early morning before work also?

Gabilan · 04/03/2018 20:40

remember that horses are evolved to live outside in all weathers - some hate being inside! It's likely that their coats & rug are thick enough to keep them warm

They are, yes. Then again, given the freedom to roam, they would seek shelter in this weather, more shelter than these ponies have by the sounds of it. The moorland ponies near me (Dartmoors and Exmoors) know where to go when this kind of weather strikes and they have miles to wander in to find somewhere.

OP it sounds like they're not that well cared for, but not so badly cared for that you could possibly take much action. Put out some feelers locally and see what you can find out. I agree with KingJoffrey - this situation is concerning.

FlippingFoal · 09/03/2018 21:27

Mine only use their field shelter to escape the flies in the summer. I know you mean well but please mind your own business

Gabilan · 10/03/2018 13:15

I know you mean well but please mind your own business

I'd far rather someone came to me with concerns that I could then probably allay, than that they ignored the issue and thereby possibly put horses' welfare at risk.

FlippingFoal · 10/03/2018 17:31

The OP says the owner visits and there is hay and water in the field - there is no welfare issue

Catscatsandmorecats · 01/04/2018 04:36

OP - are you sure they are only visited once a day - do you watch the field 24/7? When I'm on morning duty (I field share) I'm often there before the farmers are up and out, they have no idea if I've been or not. Could this be the case here?

If they have hay and access to water (ice should be broken, but bear in mind bit can refreeze) they should be fine, there is probably a reason they don't use the shelter.

If you're really concerned make sure you have your facts straight. If you really want to help maybe befriend the owners and ask them about their horses before offering to help.

britnay · 01/04/2018 13:39

Agreed with the others, you can't be sure that they are only up once a day. I used to have a livery who did their morning chores at 4am as that was when they were coming back from a night shift and it suited them.

Whatsforu · 01/04/2018 13:50

I feel having a shelter and not allowing horses access to it seems pointless but horses are very clever at finding the more sheltered part of the field. If they are fed, watered and checked I would say leave it be. We often think how we would feel. remember horses are meant to live outdoors,(apart from certain breeds). What worries me more is pampered natives who come into spring fat!!!! That is being cruel!!!

britnay · 01/04/2018 14:07

My native has been out naked 24/7 on a stubble field all winter, with just a hedge for shelter, and is still looking rotund! :o
I'm hoping that he is less round under all that winter fluff

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