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HORSE SENSE: The roughing off process
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The Irish Field
HORSE SENSE: The roughing off process
on 11 October 2017
Here are our tips on how to make the roughing off process as easy as possible for you and your horse

ROUGHING off is the preparation process whereby a fit horse is readied to be turned out for a rest/holiday at grass.

There are a few reasons why a horse may need roughing off. These include: the horse may be due a break after working hard all season, the horse may have an injury, a young horse can be turned away to grow and mature or the rider may be taking a break. A break from work can be very beneficial for the physical and mental well-being of the horse.

The process takes roughly 10-14 days. However it depends on the level of fitness of the horse and the time of year.

Factors to consider prior to roughing off:

  • If a horse is in work the workload should be cut down gradually. Both in terms of intensity and duration.
  • Turn out time should be gradually increased, so he becomes more accustomed to being outdoors.
  • Adjust your horse's diet accordingly as workload is gradually reduced. (Note: Suddenly changing a horse’s diet can cause upset so all changes should be made gradually.)
  • Click here to brush up on the golden rules of feeding.

  • Grooming should be cut down to a minimum to allow the natural oil’s in the horse’s coat to build up.
  • Treat each horse as an individual — don’t treat a thoroughbred as you would a more common type. You will need to consider the horse’s coat and condition and decide whether your horse needs a turnout rug while he is living out.
  • Initially just the hind shoes should be removed so that the horse does not injure itself or others. When the horse is ready to live out permanently consult your farrier about removing all of the shoes, this shouldn’t be a problem as long as your horse’s hooves are in good condition.
  • Before you start the roughing off process you should ensure your horse is in good health, i.e. vaccinations and worming are up to date.
  • Finally, choose a pleasant day to turn him out. He may wear a New Zealand rug if neccessary.
  • Grass-kept horses still need to be checked on a daily basis.

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