Should I stable my horse at night?

Thursday 15th October, 2020

Brown horse with head poking out the door of a green stable which is in a field of snow

Over the summer leaving your horse out in their pasture overnight isn’t much of a worry. However, with winter drawing in you might be feeling bad about leaving your horse outdoors overnight. Horses can thrive with a combination of being stabled and having free rein of the pasture. Being pastured during the day and stabling your horse at night helps ensure time outside whilst staying safe overnight.

Reasons to keep your horse in stables overnight

When it comes to figuring out whether to stable your horse overnight in the winter, World Horse Welfare’s UK Support Officer, Tanya Element, says: “Knowing your horse is the key factor here and, as with any time of the year, it is about assessing your horse’s behaviour and condition. Each horse is different, so monitor your horse daily and if they start to look tucked up or if their winter coat isn’t coming through as much as it should then this would signal a good time to bring your horse inside.”

If you’re trying to figure out when to start stabling your horse overnight, there are some things to consider. The top priority is obviously your horse’s health. For instance, if your horse isn’t well or is older, it may be advisable to keep them stabled overnight. There’s also the matter of your horses’ winter coat. Horses’ winter coats are begin to grow when the light changes and days get shorter. This means if autumn is bright with light evenings, when the temperature drops your horse may not be prepared. If you think their winter coat seems thin, stabling at night can help them stay warm.

Consider the state of your field too, as it will impact on your horses’ health too. If your horse doesn’t have access to a shelter in your field, stabling them overnight may be something to consider. If you’d prefer to keep them pastured but only have internal stables, a mobile field shelter may be a great option for you. They don’t require planning permission as they are fully mobile, and can be erected anywhere. This means you have the option of easy protection from the weather for your horse over winter, without building permanent stable buildings. 

To add to this, if bad weather and constant use have made your pastures very muddy, this could result in injury for your horse or your field becoming damaged. Stabling your horse overnight can ensure your horse is safe and your field has time to recover.

How to keep your horse happy when stabled

Being stabled overnight can be very beneficial for horses, but it’s important to keep the conditions right. Here are some things you can do: 

  • Keep your horse entertained. Horses need quality sleep, but only sleep for about 4 hours a night. They need entertainment whilst in their stables if they’ll be there upwards of 8 hours. Horse toys will do just fine for this.
  • Muck out the stables often. Damp and dirty stables will be not only uncomfortable for your horse but can also contribute to health problems. Woodchip bedding may last a little longer than hay and straw, which will need to be mucked out at least every other day. 

Stable your horse close to other horses. Horses are herd animals naturally and love company. If you’re worried about socialisation or your horse seems low in mood due to missing the company of other horses overnight, consider moving loose horse boxes or mobile shelters closer together or building bespoke timber stables or internal stables that allow horses to be stabled together.

If you’re interested in stabling your horse but don’t have the facilities, or you think you need new stables to better fit your needs, take a look at what we can do for you here at Vale Stables, or contact us today.

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