Getting Pastures Ready for Winter


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This past weekend I had the pleasure of offering my Horses for Clean Water workshop to horse owners in the scenic Peace River region of Northern Alberta, Canada. The vastness is impressive with geography similar to the United States’ Great Plains, except with far fewer people and more agriculture. It was amazing to talk with horse folks who owned so much land – 100 to 300 or more acres, although still many with ten acres or less. Going into their third year of drought in a region that depends on surface water for drinking and rainfall for agriculture, they have some very real, very serious water conservation issues, which were interesting to learn about.

Being in the far north was a bit of a wake-up call; the day I left Boise it was 90 degrees. Upon arriving in Grande Prairie the weather quickly deteriorated to cold, blowing and looking like snow. Winter was definitely knocking at the door, as it soon will be for the rest of us in North America.

This means if you are lucky enough to own horse pasture now is the time to baby it. It’s important to realize that a good stand of grass is critical for environmental health. Grass roots hold valuable topsoil in place and prevent erosion. Grass plants minimize pollution by filtering out nutrients and sediments and reducing runoff.

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Written by:

Alayne Blickle, a lifelong equestrian and ranch riding competitor, is the creator/director of Horses for Clean Water, an award-winning, internationally acclaimed environmental education program for horse owners. Well-known for her enthusiastic, down-to-earth approach, Blickle is an educator and photojournalist who has worked with horse and livestock owners since 1990 teaching manure composting, pasture management, mud and dust control, water conservation, chemical use reduction, firewise, and wildlife enhancement. She teaches and travels North America and writes for horse publications. Blickle and her husband raise and train their mustangs and quarter horses at their eco-sensitive guest ranch, Sweet Pepper Ranch, in sunny Nampa, Idaho.

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