• Easy keeping
Field-kept ponies are often lower maintenance than a pony who lives in. Ponies who live out require appropriate food for their breed, age and workload, they need checking at least twice a day to make sure they are happy and have not been injured. Regular field maintenance must be carried out, from poo picking to checking fencing and water troughs.
• Keep on moving!
Ponies who are out 24/7 are constantly moving around when grazing and walking back and forth to the water trough, etc. This can be beneficial for keeping joints moving, especially for some older ponies whose joints may stiffen up in the stable.
• Back to nature
Living out at grass is the most natural way for a pony to live, as he would in the wild. Eating from the ground and having space to roam about is what ponies are designed for.
• Breathe easy
Living out can help ponies with allergies or lung irritation that could be caused or made worse by dust found in stables. However, some ponies can form allergies to pollen, particularly at times when the pollen count is very high, so it is up to you to decide which living conditions best suit your pony.
• So social
Ponies living out in a group with other ponies will have the opportunity to socialise and make friends. Stable-kept ponies may have neighbours to interact with but it is unlikely to be as socially rewarding as being turned out with other ponies.
• Rugs required!
Being out all the time means ponies are out on cold winter nights. Owners usually worry more about this than ponies! But it does mean that a pony may need to be rugged. Choose appropriate rugs according to his breed, age and clip (if he has one). It isn’t advisable to heavily clip ponies who live out as it removes all their natural warmth. Clipped ponies who are stabled will also need rugs in cold weather.
• Watch the water!
In winter, water troughs may freeze over in cold weather. It is essential to check them twice a day and break any ice, so that ponies can still access water at all times.
• Dirt alert!
Ponies who live out have the potential to get much more dirty than stabled ponies! Most ponies love a good roll and most will do so each day, so keeping field-kept ponies clean can be tricky! Just be careful not to over-groom your pony, as you could risk removing the natural oils from his coat, which make it waterproof.
• Pick it up
Poo picking is essential maintenance for field-kept ponies. If it is not done regularly, it could risk the grass becoming sick and ponies may not want to graze it. Not poo picking regularly may also increase the risk of ponies ingesting worms.
• Wound watch
Field-kept ponies could be at greater risk of becoming injured than stabled ponies. This is particularly the case if a pony lives with other ponies, as he could get kicked or bitten. Plus, field gates, some fencings and the ground itself can present problems if not correctly maintained.