pasture management cowgirl magazine

When you keep horses at home, you have the added responsibility of pasture management. Horses can quickly overgraze a field! They’ll leave them looking bare and weedy in a few days to weeks, depending on the size and number of horses. There is plenty you can do to avoid this though.

Managing Your Horses’ Pastures

  1. Create a rotational system with several smaller pastures. Let your horses graze until the grass is down to 2-5 inches tall, then move them to the next one. This gives each field a chance to rest and regrow.
  2. Your herd size should be appropriate for your field. Ideally, one horse per acre is a good rule to follow.
  3. You’ll need a dry lot, also known as a sacrifice space. This area will be used when conditions are very wet or dry. Many horse owners like to add gravel to avoid excessive mud.
  4. Mow your pastures to keep weeds down and avoid overgrowth.
  5. Drag your pastures to break up manure piles.
  6. Test your soil every three years minimally. Nutrients and the pH can get out of balance.
  7. You may need to reseed your fields. Talk with your agricultural extension office to get recommendations.
  8. Check for toxic weeds and pull them.
  9. For non-poisonous weeds, develop a management system like herbicides or weed eating.
  10. If you have other farm animals, such as goats or cattle, they can be rotated into the pasture to help with management. Some will eat things your horses weren’t interested in.

Your horse will be healthier and happier with quality pasture. It’s your job to make that happen!