Pasture management begins with planning ahead. During winter and rainy seasons, horses can easily destroy fields within hours. The combination of running and kicking up their heels mixed with soggy footing and delicate grass spells mud. Dry lots, also know as sacrifice areas, give fields a chance at surviving nasty weather conditions. They also allow pastures to rest and not be overgrazed.
These lots should be approximately 600 square feet per horse, but can be as small as 400 square feet. They should be layered with gravel, wood chips, or sand. If the ground is mostly clay, bare soil can even work. The important thing is that dry lots should have excellent drainage. Gentle, sloping land is ideal.
In these sacrifice areas, safe shelter of a run-in or tree is necessary. Make sure the run-in or lean-to is large enough for the number of horses in the dry lot.
Because these areas are considerably smaller than most pastures, you must pick up manure regularly.
In addition to preserving pasture, dry lots allow you to control the amount of grass you horse is eating and avoid wet, muddy conditions which can cause thrush and other fungus.
Unfortunately, we can’t control the weather, but we can decide how we handle it. Prepare your farm with a dry lot or even two and your pastures will thank you.