Turnout in a pasture is good for your horse’s mental and physical well being. Grazing has many positive effects on the digestive system of your horse. If your field is too small, you risk overgrazing and poor nutrition. Careful management and planning ahead can help you get the perfect set up for your companion.
Generally, one acre per horse is normal practice. If you have four horses, you should have four acres of turnout. Draft horse require a little more, while ponies not as much. This rule of thumb varies depending on quality of grass, terrain, and weather. An acre for one horse helps ensure there is enough forage for him to eat. If the grass grows poorly than one acre will not be sufficient.
Those on small acreages will want to supplement their horses with hay. A small paddock can also be helpful during rainy or snowy weather. An ideal lot size is about 600 square feet per horse, but you can make it smaller for short term usage. This dry lot can also be used to avoid overgrazing or once the grass falls below three to four inches.
The size of your pasture can affect your workload. Fields over five acres can become hard to manage. You must spend time checking for broken fences and managing weeds.
If you follow the one acre per horse, it is best to have multiple pastures set up so you can rotate. This will keep the land productive.
Keep a careful eye on your pastures and see how they handle your current herd. If you notice they are tearing through it too quickly, than it might be time to divide up the pastures or limit how many you have. Within time, you’ll find the perfect balance!