Managing horse pastures can be tricky without the right knowledge. A good pasture can provide quality forage for your horse and cut down on hay bills. By taking the time to learn proper field management, you can save your land from turning into a barren, mud pit. Instead, follow these few tips to have lush pastures in the spring, summer, and fall.
- Do not overstock! With productive soil as little as an acre may sustain one horse, but ideally two acres per 1000 pound horse is recommended.
- Create a sacrifice or dry lot. When the pasture is resting or too wet, your horse should be placed in a smaller area to be housed. This area usually turns to dirt and some may put gravel in the space. While in the dry lot, he will need hay and fresh water.
- Practice rotational grazing. Instead of one large pasture, create multiple ones. You can turn out your horse for a week or so than move him to the next and allow the original pasture to regrow. Continuous grazing in the same area can severely damage pasture productivity.
- Wait for the right time to start spring grazing. The grass should be at least 6 inches high and the ground firm. Start by putting your horse out for 15 to 30 minutes and work up to longer periods over several weeks.
- Control weeds! After your horse is rotated out of the pasture, it is a good idea to mow down weeds. Make sure to mow before flowering. Well managed pastures shouldn’t have as many weeds to begin with.
- Soil test and fertilize if necessary. Check with your local county and see if they offer soil testing kits. They will let you know what is needed and how much. The tests will provide the PH levels and soil fertility.
Now you’re on the right path to fuller and lusher pastures. It just takes a little extra time and effort to ensure your fields are well cared for. Your horse will be much happier with green grass!