STEVE: Turn out on a regular basis on an athlete helps freshen him up. It gets him out. Here in Kentucky, as we can see this time of the year, especially in the spring it’s really bright, is green, there’s a lot of grass. It is really, really a good situation for a horse to get out, kick up his heels, kind of stretch his legs a little bit and get out and graze. And they really enjoy it, it’s very therapeutic for them, it gets them to relax…kind of let down their hair you might say…just takes the pressure off. So you don’t have to go out and have them under saddle and have them under the pressure training competing and getting ready to train and compete; that sort of thing.

The other terminology that I use for turning out would be when you are going to stop a horse. Basically you take them out of their day to day training regimen. And what we do is we stop on that normal activity and we stop. They basically are turned out and left out. We leave them out on a daily basis when they may be housed at night…some horses are left out perpetually all day long…and that means day and night.

So that takes them completely out of training and sometimes we’ll do a freshening up period or a “turn out” so to speak for roughly, maybe a week, 30 days…sometimes even longer, depends what they’re recovering from. Maybe they need to put some conditioning on…maybe they just need some down-time, coat’s a little rough…maybe they’ve got ulcers…maybe they just need a mental break from the activities or whatever it is they’ve been performing. So that’s, you know, the 2 ideas that I have toward turn out.

ALEX: I was looking outside at this green grass in Kentucky. So if you want to turn a horse out to give him some exercise, let him kick his heels up, are you concern that all of the sudden with the spring rain there’s a lot of this, you know, the green grass is high; that’s obviously good for a horse, but too much could be too much?

STEVE: Well yeah. You got to be really careful what you turn them on. For instance you, you put a horse out where there’s a really lush, you know, really green clover in particular…you know, a horse sometimes will get, you know, they’ll get a little gassy…a little gassy colic, that sort of thing. You got to be careful about what you put them on.

We have a little clover here. We have mostly grass here at my place. But you know, like I said my horses, my rope horses are all out today. They are all kicked out for the day…just get some grass, make them happy, and make them comfortable, let them kick their heels up. And that’s really is a good mental break for them. So they, you know, have a nice day off and enjoy themselves…enjoy stretching out. You’ll go out here and my gray horse will be out spread, laying down, you know, there taking a nap in the sun, after you get you get his belly full of grass. So it’s good for him.

ALEX: Yeah. Now when you talk about turn out and taking a horse out of competition for a reason of maybe they were injured or they need a lengthy rest…what are the concerns of taking a horse out of competition as far as diet and how their body’s going to change, because now you are not going to have to feed him as much, there’s some gastrointestinal situations that you want to avoid from happening. Can you explain some of those?

STEVE: Well one of the things that I like to do when we’re going to turn one out, stop on them, for let’s say for extended period of 30 to maybe 60 or 90 days.

ALEX: Yeah.

STEVE: You know we’ll go ahead and we’ll maybe pull their shoes, check their feet. We’ll go ahead and check their teeth. Maybe worm them at the time. You know, I don’t normally do a blood work up unless it’s, basically necessary for, parasites or infection, or maybe they’re a little run down. So I’ll know if there’s a problem brewing or has been one brewing prior to that. But, yeah. It’s a good conditioning. You basically just can’t take them and throw them out, they will go run through a fence.

ALEX: Yeah, yeah.

STEVE: If it’s a fit race horse, or even a performance horse, sometimes I’ll even tranquilize them, or we’ll let them go get some activity and get turned out just for a little period of time. So, they get used to or adjust to the turning out period. So, there is an adjustment, absolutely. And typically I’ll utilize some medication, some tranquilizer or something of this nature before we kick them out for the first few days. And once they settle in so we know they aren’t going to injure himself or hurt himself worse than they had going in, then we’re probably going to be okay and they will probably be left out from then on.

ALEX: Yeah.