Monday, February 3, 2014

Horse Keeping on a small place: Pasture

Part 4 of “Horse Keeping on a small space”

Now that we have our barn site established and ideas for our barn, it is time to consider your pasture, paddock and run pen requirements. Evaluate the remaining space keeping mind that you will want to come and go from the barn and pasture with your horse.

Turn Out Paddock

As I mentioned in the Barn Segment, I chose to allow my horse to roam from the stall directly into a paddock. In a small acreage, you will want to manage the turn-out routine you establish. With only 1.5 – 2 acres remaining it will be necessary to time the turn-out and be ready to cross fence so that you can rest pasture areas allowing the grass to recuperate. A fairly large paddock gives your horse the freedom to exercise until turn-out. As I mentioned, my horse was arthritic and was not a “sand eater” so I dug down 8” and filled in with river sand for her comfort. Keep drainage in mind as you select a substrate for this area.

Fencing

One of the most important decisions you will make in the construction of the horse keeping project is fencing. There are many choices depending on a budget. I researched all possibilities taking into consideration cost and maintenance. I concluded that agricultural vinyl fencing would work best for me. I needed something that would have aesthetic appeal at all times given I was in a city subdivision and I did not have time nor effort to devote to painting and frequent repairs. I then began researching vinyl fencing and discovered that there are major differences in vinyl fencing. There is landscape fencing and there is agricultural fencing meant to hold up under livestock confinement. I then decided that I wanted to do a four board structure even though it added to the cost. Four boards eliminate the temptation of your horse trying to test the grass “on the other side of the fence” and in my mind was a safety factor to have four boards versus three. Four boards also adds height to the structure which was more appealing to me. Once again, take your time and research fencing as it is a costly investment and should be just that – an investment that will be on your property for a very long time.

Grass

My pastures are all fescue grass which gave me grass nearly all winter. If you plan on breeding a mare, you will want to discuss pasture with your vet. Mares will need to be pulled from fescue grass several months before they foal and in that case you may want to consider Bermuda grass. Again discuss this with your vet. I always planned to aerate and reseed once a year to keep my pasture in good grazing condition.

Equipment & Structures

I provided a water tub in both pastures so that my mare had access to water at all times. To make watering convenient I ran water lines to the pasture and to the paddock area. It was always convenient to keep fresh water available at all times. E-tackroom has automatic waterers you may want to consider for both the paddock and stalls.

The round pen was 30’ in diameter with river sand as a substrate and access from the pasture or barn. This structure is an excellent means of exercise and training. Keep in mind, you will be looking for ways to exercise your horse since you are on a small space with limited turn out.

The driveway to my barn was 4” asphalt to accommodate heavy loads of hay and shavings. I also placed a dumpster near my barn so I had a waste disposal truck entering my facility on a weekly basis so a substantial drive way was a must.

In closing, I hope I have encouraged you to take the step to have your horse on your own property even if you have a small space. Taking care of my horse was a big part of the enjoyment for me. So as you plan your facility, put yourself there in order to envision the space you think will work best for you. Consult with your contractor, vet and friends to gather any additional ideas. We hope as you plan your horse keeping space you will keep e-tackroom in mind for all of your horse keeping needs. If we can answer any questions about “Horse Keeping on a Small Space”, feel free to give us a call and I will be happy to discuss your project.

Happy Trails!!!!

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