Establishing a Quality Horse Pasture
Horses are a very popular animal in the United States. Our very settlement was heavily based on the ability of horses to transport people and goods to far-flung locations, and the appeal of pleasure horses remains strong today. Not only do these majestic animals live in large numbers on dedicated farms, they also populate specially-built residential areas that have accommodations for a smaller group owned by a single household.
When we think of horses, we imagine them either in a barn or, more likely, grazing contentedly in a beautiful green pasture. However, getting that optimum forage space established for them is not a simple or fast task. It takes careful planning and attention to detail.
The first step in creating a great horse pasture is to get it properly fenced. Most horse pastures are bordered with plank fence, which requires ongoing maintenance. Wooden planks can rot or be damaged by termites, or have cracks from the impact of horses, people, or machinery. The fence should be thoroughly inspected so that repairs can be made before turning any animals in to graze.
Next, shop for a quality horse pasture seed that will produce well in your local climate and provide appropriate nutrition for the horses. Not every species of grass or clover is ideal for horses, even if they seem to like it. It's vital that you plant the right things for them to graze on.
Once it's bordered with a strong fence and seeded with good forages, the pasture should be checked for poisonous plants. There are many species growing wild that are appealing to the horse but can prove fatal if consumed. Others may not taste or smell good but can be eaten accidentally with more appealing forages like grass or clover. Familiarize yourself with the poisonous species most likely to grow in your area, and eliminate them before your animals have access to the area.
From there, let's have a word on weed control. Not only is it vital to keep these unwanted plants out of the way for aesthetic purposes, it is also important as a step in maintaining the right proportion of nutritious feed for the horses. More weeds and less forage means lower quality nutrition, and that's a problem. In addition, tall, spindly weeds really ruin the look of an otherwise-pristine pasture, so they get attention from almost every pasture owner.
Your first weapon against weeds is your desirable plants. Keeping conditions right for them and taking good care of them will help reduce the opportunities available for weeds by reducing the bare soil and sunlight available to intruders.
From there, look at control measures such as clipping the pasture before weeds can produce seed, and then use spot treatments of herbicides if absolutely necessary. Be sure that any chemical controls are done exactly according to label instructions, and that horses are held out of the field for the appropriate length of time.
Anyone who owns horses knows that they take a lot of care. They need to be groomed, fed, and exercised properly, with a good cool-down period after each workout. There's also a lot of work involved in establishing the healthy pastures needed for those workouts and pleasure rides, as well as for their relaxed grazing after a day's activities.
Good management of a horse pasture will yield a space where horses and riders are both happy. You want a pasture that's healthy for the horse, and also beautiful to gaze upon when riding.