Is your horse an easy keeper? Does he seem to gain weight just by looking at a lush green pasture? For some horses, packing on the pounds isn’t an issue. Keeping them at a healthy weight, however, tends to take some effort. In some instances, a dry lot (paddock without grass) can be beneficial to them.

In last week’s poll, we asked our readers if they have a dry lot on their property to help manage their horses’ weights during the spring and summer. More than 550 people responded, and we’ve tallied the results!

Of the 579 respondents, 443 (77%) said they do have a dry lot they utilize during the spring and summer, while the remaining 136 respondents (23%) said they do not.

Additionally, more than 190 people commented about why they did or did not use dry lots for their horses:  

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Many people described their dry lot use:

  • “Dry lot turnout in fall and winter which is supplemented with grass turnout for a few hours spring and summer.”
  • “I have two dry lots and one pasture. This is due to space, though weight control is a bonus.”
  • “I use dry lot for evening and pasture turnout during the day.”
  • “I contain the horses in the dry lot to limit their time on pasture to keep from depleting the grass.”
  • “Yes, but not for weight management. We live in the desert and don’t waste water (growing grass).”
  • “It’s necessary to control feeding habits and keep grass pasture in good shape. I also mow my grass a lot.”
  • “My horses are boarded and kept in dry lots. They are rotated on pasture one day each week.”
  • “Love it! Horses can enjoy the outdoors without destroying the fields.”
  • “It saved the Cushing’s horse and the pastures when wet. I wouldn’t be without it.”
  • “I use my dry lot in the winter, too, not just the summer.”
  • “I use the dry lot all year because I have no pasture.”
  • “To keep control of their diet to keep them from overeating the fresh grass and foundering.”
  • “We rotate horses from the pasture to dry lot daily to manage their weight.”
  • “My horses live on a dry lot. They are very easy keepers and would become obese on grass.”
  • “A dry lot, or walkout in stone dust, is critical to maintaining my easy keepers and allowing grass.”  
  • “Stall doors open into the dry lot. Horses can go in and out at will.”
  • “It’s not totally dry but the forage is almost non-existent. We call it the Jenny Craig paddock.”
  • “We use a dry lot with a run in shed in the middle of our pastures as part of the pasture rotation.”
  • “Having a dry lot helps me control the amount of fresh grass they consume. Our dry lots offer shade.”

Several respondents mentioned different how their horses, with varying health conditions, benefitting from drylots:

  • “My horse has a history of laminitis, so he lives in a dry lot year-round.”
  • “Dry lot always for my insulin resistant (IR) horse.”
  • “I couldn’t do without a dry lot. The ‘air ferns’ would founder (they have come close in a previous year).”
  • “Mare puts on weight easily. She has equine metabolic syndrome (EMS).”
  • “One of our horses has EMS. He cannot be turned out in the spring even with a grazing muzzle.”
  • “I have a horse prone to laminitis so the dry lots for him and to help pastures grow.”
  • “I have some with metabolic issues and ponies that get fat on air. Without dry lots we’d be in trouble!”
  • “One horse has Cushing’s and our donkey can’t have access to green grass. It’s also easier to regulate feed”
  • “Yes, the IR horse would founder. Automatic pellet feeders are great! Grass is too lush here.”
  • “We have horses with EMS so it’s a necessity.”
  • “I have an easy keeper pony and a donkey prone to founder.”
  • “My horse is severely IR and has PPID. He cannot stay healthy on grass.”
  • “My horse has Cushing’s and cannot eat grass so she lives in a dry lot year-round.”
  • “Yes, but not for weight management. I use it to allow foundered mares turnout.”
  • “Older chronic laminitis pony and younger Welsh Cob live in the dry pen. It’s the only way to control feed intake!”
  • “I use the dry lot to limit new grass time for my horses.”

A few people said that they would like to have a dry lot or are planning for one in the future:

  • “I am planning on adding one, but more to prevent over grazing than to control weight.”
  • “No, but I would like to have one for a sacrifice lot (save pasture grass) and for weight management.”
  • “But I would love one.”

Others shared reasons why they don’t have and/or use dry lots for their horses:

  • “No, but I can use my round pen or arena if necessary. No grass there.”
  • “My two hard keepers are on all grass, all the time.”
  • “Not enough acreage.”
  • “The farm where we board has 105 horses; there are spacious pastures but no dry lots are available.”
  • “With our climate it would be a mud area. We use strip grazing instead.”
  • “We are on someone else’s land, the owner likes green fields! We are not allowed to have a dry lot.”
  • “I have concerns about gastric ulcers and sand colic when grazing is restricted.”
  • “This would be asking for sand colic.”
  • “There’s barely enough space for adequate pasture, so dieting horses are turned out for less time.”

Some respondents commented on their horse’s turnout routine:

  • “My horses go out for two hours in the morning and afternoon and receive a flake of hay in the evening.”
  • “I use a track paddock year-round.”
  • “Mine are on pasture all year long.”
  • “They’re in at night to limit grass intake and out during the day, but often in shelter out of heat and avoiding flies”
  • “My horses are on 24/7 turnout year-round so naturally come onto spring grass gradually. Both are Thoroughbreds.”
  • “Horses go out in the morning and come in at night to give their bodies a break from the rich grass.”
  • “I have limited pasture and must rotate grazing along with feeding hay all year round.”
  • “All my horses only get two hours of pasture a day.”
  • “I graze the horses one to two hours each day and feed at least a flake of hay for the other feeding.”
  • “To manage weight on an older gelding, I do pen him off grass 12 hours a day.”
  • “My property is steep with little grass so my horses get limited turn out time year-round.”

And others left general comments:

  • “I’ve had no trouble with overweight horses even though on pasture 24/7.”
  • “The native grass comes up even in my dry lot.”
  • “Living in Arizona, everything is a dry lot.”
  • “Weight control is not an issue.”
  • “I have a sacrifice lot. It contains a large shelter, an automatic waterer, and two slow feeders.”
  • “We’re in Arizona. Dry lots are a given unless one irrigates!”
  • “We do have a dry lot, though we don’t usually use it. Our horses do fine on grass.”
  • “I have Morgans, so I worry about weight gain and laminitis on too much grass.”
  • “New Mexico is high desert. My 21 acres will not support two horses, so I sacrifice a 1/2 acre area for dry lot.”
  • “Sacrifice lots protect the rest of the property and keep the horses moving, reducing injuries.”
  • “I use grazing muzzle when needed.”

You can find more information about the appropriate size for dry lots, confinement areas horse keeping, how to create a sacrifice area for horses, spring horse feeding considerations, and horse weight management FAQs at TheHorse.com!  

This week, we want to know: where do you do the majority of your horseback riding? Vote now and share your comments at TheHorse.com/polls!  

The results of our  weekly polls  are published in The Horse Health E-Newsletter, which offers news on diseases, veterinary research, health events, and in-depth articles on common equine health conditions and what you can do to recognize, avoid, or treat them.  Sign up for our e-newsletters  on our homepage and look for a new poll on  TheHorse.com.