When I began rehabbing senior horses my goal was to create an environment as close to their natural environment as possible. I would love to have a huge amount of acreage and turn my horses loose. The more they can take care of themselves on their own, the healthier they will be. Freedom of movement is a key ingredient to their well-being.
When I found a place to keep my first horse it was a several acre pasture with another horse and a shelter. I remember the owner of the property saying it wasn’t the Ritz Hotel. In my mind, to a horse, it was the Ritz. What more could my horse want? Six to eight acres to roam freely day and night with another horse, and a shelter in case he wanted to come in out of the rain.
He had come from an environment of a cement paddock, with some turn out on pasture in the summer. While he had it better than a stalled horse, who has very little space to move, the cement and small space took a toll on his aging body. Instead of feeling great as he aged, his aches and pains were increasing to the point of biting people. When he retired and I took him, I knew that just wide open space on real dirt would do wonders for him. He could start rehabbing his own body just by having the space to move freely day and night.
I even once read of a study done that showed that horses at pasture with no additional exercise program had the same level of fitness as stalled horses who were ridden daily for exercise.
Given the opportunity, horses will take care of themselves often times better than we can. The bonus for us is that we will have more years to enjoy our horses in a state of good health. What more could we want?