Managing Small Horse Pastures

Proper management of pastures on small acreage can mean better grazing for your horses and reduced hay costs.
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managing small horse pastures
There are ways to stretch your pasture to adequately feed more than one horse on minimal acreage. However, you must be willing to create a healthy pasture and maintain it properly. | Photo: iStock

Proper management of pastures on small acreage can mean better grazing for your horses and reduced hay costs.

While many of us are in the depths of winter still, it’s important to begin planning for our horses’ forage needs once the pastures begin to get green. Many horse owners try to keep their horses on pasture, but it can be a challenge to maintain healthy pastures that provide high-quality forage. Horses tend to overuse certain parts of pastures, literally eating favorite areas into the ground and opening the way for encroachment by opportunistic weeds. Horse owners need a plan, and they must understand that in addition to managing the horses, they should also maintain the forage.

As stated by Bob Coleman, MS, PhD, an associate professor in the University of Kentucky’s Department of Animal and Food Sciences and extension horse specialist, “Even if you only have two to five acres, the grass is a crop, and certain practices must be followed in order to enhance that crop.”

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Heather Smith Thomas ranches with her husband near Salmon, Idaho, raising cattle and a few horses. She has a B.A. in English and history from University of Puget Sound (1966). She has raised and trained horses for 50 years, and has been writing freelance articles and books nearly that long, publishing 20 books and more than 9,000 articles for horse and livestock publications. Some of her books include Understanding Equine Hoof Care, The Horse Conformation Handbook, Care and Management of Horses, Storey’s Guide to Raising Horses and Storey’s Guide to Training Horses. Besides having her own blog, www.heathersmiththomas.blogspot.com, she writes a biweekly blog at https://insidestorey.blogspot.com that comes out on Tuesdays.

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