How to Develop a Good Pasture Management for Your Horse

Keeping horses at grass requires careful and thoughtful use of the available land. Horses are extremely fastidious spot grazers—they prefer to eat the most succulent shoots close to the ground and never eat near their own droppings. A classic example of pasture grazed by horses would show areas that are very overgrazed and patches with long grass that are virtually untouched. This wasteful use of grass leads some people to dismiss fields as just “turnout” places for horses rather than being useful sources of forage, or to think that there is plenty of grass available when in reality the horse does not have enough. Therefore good pasture management should aim to maximize the grazing potential of the land on which the horse lives.

The best way to improve your horse’s grazing is to be proactive. Regularly cut or “top” the grass during the summer months to keep the length below 8 in (20 cm), which makes it more palatable for horses to eat. This has the added advantage of keeping weeds such as docks, buttercups and creeping thistles at bay. Ground-covering weeds such as these spread and reseed rapidly, drawing nutrients out of the soil, smothering the grass and generally making the land very unproductive. It is good practice to spray a field once a year with a weed killer to keep on top of such invading weeds-spring is the optimum time when weeds are growing vigorously and the uptake of weed killer is greatest.

Pasture Management Horse

The other enemy of grassland is hoof traffic, particularly during winter months when overgrazing and wet conditions can lead to severe “poaching” (trampling or cutting up) of the pasture. Minimize this by decreasing turnout time or using temporary fencing to create a smaller “sacrifice area” on which to keep the horses while the rest of the field is allowed to recover.

Horses are very clean animals and will only leave droppings in certain parts of the field-such parts then become the roughest and least grazed areas. Regular collection of droppings will prevent these areas from becoming larger and disused and also provide an opportunity to regularly monitor the whole field, taking into account any litter or holes that may affect the horse’s health or well-being.

Filed Under: Pets & Animals


About the Author: Fred Goodson has a passion for pets and animals. He has 4 dogs and is planning to have another one. He is also a blogger who writes about pets and animals. Currently, he is living in New Jersey.

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