If you followed my blog for some time you might know that the needs of my horses are always a top priority for me. For years, I have been searching for a stable that would allow the horses to live as naturally as possible, meaning with 24/7 turnout and constant access to forage.
Ten days ago, Nazir and Weto moved to a new stable and it looks like our dream becomes reality. The new place, called Universe Horse Center, is situated in the north of the Warsaw area, in the middle of the amazing Kampinos National Park. Here, Asia, the owner, is fulfilling her own dream of an equestrian center and she has agreed to provide an area of her land for my horses and some friends’s horses, in which we can basically “do what we want”. How cool is that! Our little stable is still under construction; however, the basic structure is already there: a shelter, hay nets and a big field. A second shelter and a hay feeder will come soon, and for autumn/winter we will have to think about how to avoid too much mud, as the area is naturally quite humid.
The horses needed some time to adjust to their new freedom, of course. All their lives, they lived in boxes for a large part of the day. Even in our last stable, Olender, with its nice big paddock, they spend 14 hours in a standard sized box, even longer when the weather was bad. As horse owners, we often think how great it is that our horses can go to the paddock for 10 hours a day. And of course, this is great! We mostly meet our horses during the day, when they are turned out, and we enjoy this freedom together. However, 14 hours, even 10 hours, in a small box stall can get very long and boring for a horse. Due to the schedule that we humans impose on our horses (turn out times, feeding times), they are not free to make their own decisions of when they would like to eat, whom to be with (as we usually also decided on which horses go together in a group), where to go, what to do. Life in a so called ‘open stable’ gives them back some amount of decision making. Of course, they are not wild horses and there is a fence around their home. But at least they can move a lot more, decide to stand in the rain during a warm summer shower, take a nap during the day and explore the paddock during the night, when there are less flies and it’s cooler.
For the first days, the horses waited by the gate to be taken in at six o’clock, just like they had been for most of their lives. They looked a bit confused, as if they thought we are making a mistake and are forgetting them. After a few days, however, they started to develop their own schedule of when to eat and when to sleep. When I come to the stable around noon, for example, I usually find them in the shelter, snoozing and hiding from the flies. During a massive thunderstorm the other day, when we humans were hiding under a roof, the horses stood out in the rain and were totally soaked. I am learning that my own ideas about comfort are not necessarily the horses’ ideas. It’s a whole new experience for me as well and I am very curious about how the horses will develop in this new environment!
One positive change that is already obvious is that Nazir is much fitter now. His arthritis doesn’t seem to be much of a problem right, and I really really hope that this is a permanent change! He is off any meds and supplements and still his knee doesn’t seem to be painful at all. A few days ago he really wanted to run on the lunge, something that hasn’t happened in years. The next day I carefully checked his stifle and couldn’t see or feel any swelling. You can’t imagine how happy I was!
Universe Horse Center is still under construction and for now we ‘only’ have an outside arena to work in. As it’s summer, I don’t really mind. The atmosphere is so welcoming and warm, it’s a place from friends to friends. It’s also very exciting to be a part of such a building up phase!
I have a feeling me and the horses just opened a new chapter in our lives.
I’ll keep you posted!
Fantastic!!! Congratulations on finding such a wonderful situation for your horses :)) Dawn
This sounds great and the fact they can go in a pair is important – I worry about horses that move from herd to herd a lot changing barns. Turn out is essential. I can’t imagine horses not being out in a pasture most of the day. My friend moved her horses from an expensive place that gave up turn out one spring because they wanted to grow their grass so the place looked good to host a circuit competition. They lost boarders.
Hi Sherri, thanks for your comment 🙂 Here in Warsaw turnout can be a big problem. Most stables turn out horses only for a few hours a day and only if the weather is good. Hence my happiness about the new place 😉
They look very happy!
They are, it’s so beautiful to see 🙂
You have done the best possible thing for your horses, especially the arthritic one. Movement is the only thing that really helps arthritis. And grazing horses, while they look like they aren’t going anywhere, can cover up to 10 miles (16 km) a day if they are out on pasture 24 hours a day. And yes, we humans tend to overthink a horse’s reaction to weather. The barn I board at is located in an area of climate extremes, and the only way we know it’s too cold for the horses is if they line up at the gate wanting to come in. They rarely do that. We have one mustang who will stay out even if the others decide to go for the gate. So glad you found the perfect life for your horses!
I’m also so happy about it! I will still do a post about how they are changing, it’s unbelievable 🙂 Some friends told me that once I have my horses in a free range stable, I will never go back to box stalls. I guess they are right 🙂