My horses, in a word, right now, are big lazy TURDS.
They lounge around all day in their dusty paddocks, socializing, trying to pick grass through the fence, eating breakfast, dinner, and their midnight snack, and doing little else.
The grass is so lush and green I don't dare put them out for more than 20 minutes at a time, so they aren't getting much exercise (and when I DO turn them out, running around is a distant, distant second to eating said lush green grass).
Their manners are in the toilet (except for standards like brushing/touching everywhere without issue, hoof picking, and turning out). Chev hasn't even seen a saddle in months. Who knows what she even remembers.
Why are they so pushy? Why does Chev insist on pushing my buttons every time I go to do something slightly out of the routine? Why is she suddenly crowding my space all over the place?
Their safety and handle-ability hasn't been affected (much), but their response time is way down. They need a job. They are fat and bored.
It got me thinking a little bit, though.
Horses need just a few things to be happy, healthy, and content:
1. Good feed.
2. Clean fresh water.
3. Shelter of some variety (whether or not they choose to use it).
6. Appropriate vaccination, deworming and dental care.
A lot of the things we push on them are really for OUR benefit and have nothing or nothing to do with their physical or mental health. These include:
1. Trace minerals (Does your horse eat? Good. Then he's getting all he needs. In the PNW, only selenium supplementation is a necessity. The rest is a waste of your hard earned money and there is plenty of science to back that opinion up)
2. Blanketing (unless it is pouring and your horse lives in the PNW outside in winter, or you have a sudden and drastic change in temperature that your thin coated horse can't cope with, OR he's an Arab with 1 mm of fur and can't grow more---it's probably best to forgo the blankets. Don't feel bad. Your horse will thank you)
3. Box stalls.
I know everyone has an opinion on those last three things...and that's fine. This is, obviously, how I feel about it. I've been in a lot of different barns and known a lot of people, and nothing incites heated discussion like whether or not horses need trace minerals, blankets, or box stalls, for heaven's sakes.
So which thing are my horses not getting?
#5--a very important one--exercise!
There's nowhere to train or ride on the property, but fortunately for me, I've recently become the proud owner of a 2 horse slant, so that should be changing shortly!
Consistent exercise seems to be the thing that most directly influences a horse's attitude.
Horses were, LITERALLY, made to run.
But we keep them cooped up 23 hours a day and expect all that muscle and energy to come walking calmly out of a stall for us, every time.
Even if they get turnout--and especially if there's lovely, distracting grass around--it's not the same as exercise.
I've never seen Chev more happy then when she's in consistent work. She'll try her heart out for me if I set her up right.
So I owe it to her to get us both back into it again.