i Mucus and skin inflammation

We are drowning in mud….

It is raining in Denmark .... Every day. And it has done so for a long time.

In fact, all of autumn and winter. The ground was saturated with water long ago, and there are new pools and mud everywhere.

The water poses a whole lot of new challenges in the keeping of our horses. Problems that we are not used to handle.

When driving around in the country, I’m met by the same sight everywhere. Flooded fields, pastures where not a single straw of grass is left, but filled with mud. And horses standing in mud up to mid-cannon. They don’t move much. Even small corrals are filled with mud.

For the cause of horse welfare, the horses should spend as much time as possible outdoors, preferably 8-10 hours daily!

I just ask myself whether we can necessarily define horse welfare this way?

The days are getting longer, and in keeping with that the horses should spend more time outside. Fair enough .... under normal conditions, and normal weather conditions. But right now, our weather really is altogether different.

I will not enter into the discussion about global warming and climate change, but only relate to the fact that the current weather is quite extreme.

We could ask ourselves the question whether the horses were better off spending shorter time in the fresh air in the pen and then get out of the rain, and eat hay in dry conditions, and then we might put a higher priority on riding them some more. Whether this is only in the form of a short walk or a walk later in the day, it is justifiable.

Another thing is that when a horse has been standing in a cold and muddy field all day, will it then have as much energy left as we would like when we ride it?

The horse uses more energy that we expect on maintenance, keeping warm (cold creeping up under its belly from a watery/muddy surface).

Horses that are standing outside for a long time on the pasture, in the weather we have at the moment, are tired when they come inside. It has the advantage, when they get in that they are very calm in the stable, but we can’t really do things that way.


When the horses are standing for many hours in mud every day, some inappropriate things happen. Their hooves begin to suffer injuries. The horn becomes soft with the result that the hooves do not have the level of resistance that they used to have.

Continuous water and mud cause the flint pebbles from the underlying layers to move to the surface.

Sharp stones and soft hooves create an increased frequency of hoof abscesses. A lot of hoof abscesses!

At the same time, the hooves are worn more than usual, which means that horses that during a “normal winter” can go without shoes have completely worn the hooves down and need help and perhaps shoes.

The fact that the horse's hooves are soft is a serious and big problem at this time.

A careful estimate would be that it will require at least two months of thawing, no rain, and wet pens before the hooves are coming back to normal strength.

Slippery pens

I also see an increase in the number of injuries in the pen. Right now, the pens are so slippery that we see more and more of injuries caused by skidding. We often see tendon injuries in relation to the riding horse, but....

Right now, we see injuries in the horses that are in the pen, among other things the flexor tendon. The injuries are very severe and are typically on the cannon and around the knee of the front legs. The injuries are so severe that, by the symptoms, it looks like the horse has a bone fracture or a very severe hoof abscess. Only it is not so. I am convinced that the pens, and the fact that they are so slippery, are a major culprit here.

Something else I have to mention is rehabilitation after a given injury. The current nature of the pens, mud, and slippery surfaces are not at all consistent with controlled and carefully considered rehabilitation. I encounter horse owners saying that it is hard on the horse that it does not get out in the pen. The answer is loud and clear - No! Isn’t it harder on the horse that, firstly, it does not heal and that we run risk that the injury gets worse! As horse owners we will have to make a greater effort and keep the horse away from the pen, and in a controlled way exercise it in another way.

What should we do?

I have no easy solution to the challenges concerning pens etc.

But I want to ask a question ..... We are hypnotized by the idea that the horse should be outside all day, no matter what. We shall be good to our horse, and we think a lot about horse welfare.

But take a look at the pens and think about what horse welfare actually means!

Could we, for a while, do things a little bit differently. It may be that it takes a little more time, that we shall work more with the horse and give it a little less time in the pen. Somewhat less pen time.

If the horse is standing in the pen, with its butt against the wind, and is just standing.... Wouldn’t it be more comfortable standing in a dry stall and eating hay? And that, instead we take it out a couple of times during the day?

At the same time, I will also direct attention to the amount of injuries. When we see an increased risk and increased frequency in injures in the field, we have to consider and do things a little differently

At the same time, I would also like to draw attention to the amount of damage. When we see an increased risk and an increased frequency of damage on the field, we should think again and do things a little differently.

And if we ruin all our fields now, what are they going to be on come spring and summer?

in conclusion it may be said…….

Horse welfare is a lot of things. And it cannot be calculated alone on how much time the horse is out in the pen!

Think carefully, on behalf of the horse!




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