Whether you currently own a farm or are in the process of looking for one, the land itself is a consideration beyond location, outbuildings, acreage, and price. The vegetation, soil, water, and bedrock that are the foundation of the top layer of the ground all affect the health and strength of your horses. But where do you start to make sure that your horses are getting the most benefit from the land they live on?

First, take a soil sample. This is a test that can run from no charge (as in the state of Georgia) to $25 for each sample, depending on how many facets of your soil you would like analyzed and how many different samples you take. Be sure to tell whoever is analyzing the soil its intended use so the applicable levels will be reported. Soil samples can be run through your County Cooperative Extension service, a university soil testing lab, or extension agents can recommend private labs or consultants who can give further assistance.

After the sample or samples are analyzed, you will receive a computer printout detailing the levels of nutrients present in your soil, including phosphorus, calcium, sulfur, the pH or measure of acidity, and potassium. If your farm has been pieced together from an older farm and additional land that might not have been used previously for livestock, take samples from different portions of the farm.

“This keeps you from spending money on fertilizers you don’t need on the parts of the farm already blessed with minerals,” said Dr. John Grove, an associate professor of agronomy at the University of Kentucky.

He also suggested that once you have the initial soil test done, you should continue to monitor the nutrient levels every three to four years, and on land managed for hay, every two years.

Horses, just like humans, need basic levels of certain minerals and vitamins on a daily basis for good health. When horses graze, they are getting some of those nutrients from