Whether you have limited grazing or an abundance of acres, paddock management is vital to ensure the land stays in good condition providing your horse with the required nutrients and a safe space to graze.
The number of horses in your care will determine the impact on your land and owners grazing more horses on a smaller area will need to work harder to protect their paddock than those with larger paddocks and fewer horses.
The general recommendation is one and a half acres for one horse and then a further acre for every additional horse in the field there after.
There are also other factors to consider such as whether the paddock will be used for grazing 24/7 or just for a number of hours per day or do the horses or ponies require restricted grazing due to laminitis?
For overweight horses and ponies prone to laminitis the grazing will need to somehow be controlled to restrict the grass intake, particularly where the grass is plentiful.
Strip grazing is a popular solution to limit the daily intake. Using electric fencing, section off a strip of the field and once the area has been grazed down the fence can be moved along a few metres to give the horses’ access to fresh grass. It is a good idea to have another fence that is gradually moved up at the opposite end to allow the paddock to rest and recover.
Another option for restricted grazing is to create a track around the edge of the field by creating a circle using electric fencing in the centre of the field. This means that the horse has to constantly keep moving around the perimeter of the field – a great choice if you horse needs to lose weight!
Daily poo picking is essential to protect the grazing, keep the risk of worm burden down, particularly in paddocks grazed by multiple horses and deter flies. Spending time poo picking also provides an opportunity to check around the field for potential hazards such as rabbit holes, broken fencing and any poisonous plants such as ragwort that will need to be removed.
Field rotation is an important part of paddock management to prevent the grazing from becoming poached. Horses are naturally selective grazers that will choose certain types of grass, often the shorter, sweeter varieties over others. This can lead to untouched rough areas of grass and weeds that can become troublesome if left to take over.
Resting a field gives horse owners a chance to top the field to prevent weeds going to seed and cut down long and unpalatable grass.
Summer is also an ideal time to prepare the paddocks for winter turnout, as muddy fields can rarely be rescued during the heart of winter.
Struggling through muddy gateways when you are trying to turn your horse out in winter is no fun. The best solution is to put hard core down in the gateway during the dry summer months or install special grass mats that stabilise the ground as the grass grows through them.
If you need equipment to help with your paddock management browse our website!