HANDS ON

• Safely switch­ing turnout times • Gas colic threat • The trou­ble with toma­toes

EQUUS - - Contents - By Christine Barakat with Melinda Freck­le­ton, DVM

When warm weather ar­rives, many peo­ple “flip” turnout sched­ules--keep­ing horses in­side dur­ing the hot, buggy day­light hours and turn­ing them out at night when it’s cooler. How­ever, one po­ten­tial down­side of hav­ing horses out at night is that any in­juries or other prob­lems that oc­cur most likely won’t be dis­cov­ered un­til morn­ing---many hours later. That’s why it’s a good idea to take a few pre­cau­tions to help the tran­si­tion to night turnouts go smoothly:

• Con­sider herd dy­nam­ics. If ev­ery horse in your herd has been turned out at night be­fore and they are all friends, they will prob­a­bly adapt eas­ily to the new sched­ule. If, how­ever, you have a new horse, you’ll want to be sure that he’s set­tled into the herd, with a buddy or two, be­fore his first night out. You want any squab­bles to reestab­lish the herd hi­er­ar­chy to hap­pen dur­ing day­light hours, when you can mon­i­tor the sit­u­a­tion.

• En­sure that your fences are vis­i­ble. Horses have ex­cel­lent night vi­sion, much bet­ter than yours. Still, you don’t want your fences to blend too much into their back­grounds. You don’t need to re­place or re­paint darker fences in shad­owy ar­eas, how­ever. The so­lu­tion can be as sim­ple as ap­ply­ing re­flec­tive tape or ty­ing a bit of sur­veyor’s tape ev­ery few feet.

• Es­tab­lish a buf­fer from au­to­mo­biles. If your pas­ture bor­ders on a road, traf­fic ac­ci­dents that dam­age the fence or in­jure horses are a pos­si­bil­ity. Con­sider us­ing a dif­fer­ent pad­dock for overnight turnout, or in­vest in a dou­ble fence line around the farm’s perime­ter.

• Watch your horse’s weight. When switch­ing to night­time turnout, horses may end up on pas­ture for many more hours each day. This ex­tra graz­ing time can lead to weight gain and an in­creased risk of lamini­tis. If your horse has a his­tory of ei­ther, con­sider us­ing a graz­ing muzzle or turn­ing him out in a dry lot. Keep tabs on all of your horses to catch any weight gain early.

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