Urban Horse Keeping - yes or no?


New Member
Apr 12, 2004
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Something that I have been thinking about today - and wondered what peoples views and experiences are.

There are lots of riding schools, and some livery yards, located in inner city, or urban areas where the space is highly limited and the environment is noisy, often complete with heavy air pollution.

Do you think these yards are worthy in their aim to bring horse-riding to the urban population, or do you think these yards compromise the lifestyle of the horse so that it can make the lifestyle of the rider easier?

I for one am surprised that the BHS approve so many of these riding schools, which have no turnout, small stable sizes (to save space) often dangerous yard layouts (again space saving) and sometimes not even the smallest amount of hacking.

Whilst I love the fact that it could get more people in to riding, I don't personally agree with any horse having to cope in the conditions they have to...

(I realise this applies to army and police horses too...)



a VERY senior citizen
I think that if the horse gets enough ACTIVITY - ie many, many hours out of the stable, be it plodding round the streets, going to a local park or going round and round the school - preferably at least some of the time in the company of other horses - then it is probably a lot better off than many horses which spend 23 hours in a 'roomy' loosebox and are only taken out for an hour's exercise. In addition, the urban horse will quite probably have heaps of distractions to interest it when it has to be confined to its stable, and its equine friends at close quarters.

Of course urban horsekeeping will never be ideal - but neither are other styles of horsekeeping 'ideal'. The horse, being so adaptable, thrives under all sorts of less-than-ideal circumstances with a little care and consideration.


New Member
Nov 30, 2007
Although it was'nt a yard it was still based in the middle of birmingham,I used to keep my horse on some land rented off the council,the horses were always so good in traffic i used to take a 8 year old out with me leading her off her own pony i must of been 12-13 on a nutty tb oh it was so fun:D, i would gallop across the football pitch I was a really cow bag all the other children on our estate thought what a snooty cow lol:D..But I did meet the person who years later fathered my daughter so not all bad lol,,,he used to think I was snooty too:D:eek: Good and bad in every thing I suppose it depends on individual yard as long as horses needs are all correctly meet then I see no probs.


New Member
May 2, 2006
I remember visiting the city farm in Camden years ago, where urban kids without much money got a chance to ride and look after ponies and it looked to me as if it was to the benefit of both of them. I think its down to good horse care and having adequate mental stimulation which makes the difference.


New Member
Some of the places I know of send their horses on regular holidays "in the country".
I know a horse who lived in London most of his life and had a few months off in Surrey every summer... he had to live out as he just wouldn't be caught until he'd been there for several weeks. He now lives at his old holiday home permanently.

I don't like the idea of them not having turnout. But I do agree with old-woman to some extent. I can't make my mind up to be honest. I wouldn't want my horses to live like that - but they've always been used to having a nice big field to go out in and go for lovely off road hacking on a regular basis which they seem to really enjoy, so they probably wouldn't be able to adapt. If they'd never known differently then maybe ? Hmmm... I really don't know.


Active Member
Mar 8, 2007
Knee deep in muck
The RS I know in Newcastle is aimed at low income kids who would never ride otherwise. The horses get holidays and are boxed to the beach every so often or to a park where they get to pelt round. I think it's OK as long as the horses aren't in their box 24/7.

Millies Mum

New Member
Feb 16, 2008
what about years ago, loadsa horseys in London etc, Milkmen, Dray horses for the brewerys, Steptoe and Son,,, don,t think they had much turnout, and back in 70,s when i worked near Luton, a lot of the horses were 24/7 in a stall with a headcollar on and leadrope tied to a weight thingy that kept them from stepping on it, and they faced away from the aisle, towards the wall,,and we only took them out for an hour a day, the other 23 they were just in their stall, ( exept if they were working ) they never seemed to mind and were good as gold to handle,,,


Salsa & Solstice Twilight
Sep 12, 2003
North Yorkshire
Personally, I really dislike the idea of not having any turnout whatsoever. Although the horses will no doubt get plenty of exercise, they won't get to fulfil their need to "play". There's a big difference to having a controlled canter on a hack and hooning around the field and having a buck, rolling and having the opportunity to graze.

I think that all children should have the opportunity to ride, but I do think that horses should be permitted to satisfy their natural instincts as much as possible. I know that none of us really live in an "ideal world" but I don't think all the riding in the world can really substitute time turned out.

When I was much smaller, I used to know a yard that was in the middle of a town, but the school owned fields on the outskirts, so the horses were rotated every few months with some turned away for a "holiday" while some were based at the school. They also had large open-plan barns which would stable three or four horses and give them room to move around and interact with each other.


Mar 16, 2008
I've just come back from New York & was talking to the carriage driver who took us on our ride around central park. he was saying that the horses are kept in small spaces in the city & are out on the carriages every day. they do no trotting, just walks of 20 mins round the same route of the park. I thought this was a bit mean as i feel bad if mine stays in one day but, i guess they must get used to it. they get lots of attention from tourists & there is a lot of activity in the park & on the city roads for them to look at. they seem happy & healthy enough. not something i would be happy with doing though.


Well-Known Member
Oct 13, 2004
On an island
In an ideal world we'd all have 100 acres of unlimited turnout (which would be varied in content, but nothing too pot holey or steep) and all the horses would live happily in small herds, without rugs (not clipped) and with no shoes (they'd all have great feet) and they'd all get ridden now and again and we'd all have access to a stable for them should they need one. But lets face it, we all do what we can - and if that means a lot of stabling - or a less than polluted atmosphere, so long as they are not showing signs of distress ( vices) or fed up behaviour under saddle, then does it matter? I don't think so. I think plenty of turnout is great if you can do that - but what if the conditions are less than ideal? what if the ground is a mess or very steep and just not conducive to healthy legs / tendons? And so long as the horses do have plenty to keep them occupied - be it either by pootling around the streets hacking or plenty going on in the yard in general I don't think it matters.


rather be riding...
May 22, 2005
In regards to the police, when i did work experience with them, they regularly let the horses out in the school and the stables were fairly large (They had the be, the horses were massive!) and although they didnt have any grass turnout, during the summer months they would spend most of their time on "holidays" out in the country.

I'm afraid i dont agree with inner city RSs. I do appreciate that they do give amazing opportunities to people who want to ride, but it really is not the most ideal situation in which to keep a horse, and IMO it would limit their wellbeing.


New Member
Apr 12, 2004
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Sugarlump, that is my point - yes, it may be beneficial to underprivileged kids - but is it really necessary to create a stable full of underprivileged horses solely to benefit the city kids?

I just don't think that we often realise that when horses look 'happy and healthy enough' how much better they would look in a more appropriate environment... we've one on my livery yard at the moment who has moved in from a city livery yard, and now with a more chilled out environment, regular turnout and safe hacking he is moving better, and seems happier in himself by all accounts.


New Member
Jul 9, 2008
Without putting my own views forward on urban horse keeping, did anyone see the article in the horse and hound a month or two ago, about the horses kept for racing (i think) in China or Japan??

The horses were literally kept in tower blocks, and exercised in schools on the 3rd floor or something!!!


New Forests Rule!
Nov 26, 2004
Visit site
Is it the urban enviroment or lack of turnout that is the issue for you.

For me it is the lack of turnout but it is not just an urban problem - there are also yards in the countryside that have restricted or no turnout during the winter and some competition horses like race horses don't get turned out either or if they do they don't get to go out in a group just on their own for fear of them getting hurt.

I used to hack out on very busy roads and my pony loved it - the more going on and the more scary things (well scary to other horses maybe) the more he seemed to like it. He is more spooky on a bridle path where he can't see clearly what it is making a rustling noise than going past a double decker or lorry releasing its brakes as then he can see exactly what is what.

I think it depends on the type of horse really.

I moved from an urban yard to a country yard and it is more peaceful but the urban yard still had plenty of turnout so it was not restricted but the new yard is quieter not because it is country but because there is less horses. Pony does seem to prefer it but I think that is because there is less horses and he is in a more stable group rather than its location.


Active Member
Dec 30, 2006
Ditto SO1.

It's not a urban yard yard I disagree with, its lack of decent trunout time. If an urban yard can offer turnout then I see them as way ahead of country yards that don't.

I know where I'd rather keep my horse.
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