a Horse on Pasture
Part of the dream of having a horse is the
visual satisfaction of seeing a horse peacefully grazing on a well-maintained
pasture at your home. Pasturing a horse might be the most natural way to keep
a horse, but unfortunately, it is out of reach for many and can be far from ideal
from a horses viewpoint. For the best chance for success, start with a good
A good pasture has a stand of plants suitable for horses. The
best kind of horse pasture is a well-drained grass mix with few weeds and NO poisonous
weeds, trees or shrubs. If there is a good grass stand established, you have decent
rainfall or access to irrigation, and you mow, harrow and reseed as necessary,
you should be able to keep one horse on 2 acres of pasture during the growing
season. However, arid ranchland with minimal browse plants can require 20 acres
or more to support a single horse. To get a better idea of the specific stocking
rate for your property, contact your county extension agent.
A pasture needs
to be enclosed with safe fencing and gates. Pasture fences and gates should be
at least 5 feet tall and well maintained to maximize the horses safety and
minimize the liability of loose horses on public or private property. Using electric
fencing in conjunction with conventional fencing decreases the wear and tear on
fences and adds to security as long as the electric fence is checked daily to
be sure it is working.
There should be no old dumps or farm equipment in
a pasture; horses can easily get hurt on items hidden by tall grass.
should be easy and safe access to free choice, good quality water. Natural sources
should be running, not stagnant. Know the source of the water your horse drinks.
If it contains agricultural runoff, it could be high in nitrates. A trough or
automatic waterer should be kept clean and situated to minimize mud and to prevent
a horse from being crowded into a corner or against a fence.
be well drained with no bogs or stagnant water and preferably the soil should
not be not sandy.
The pasture should provide shelter - either natural (trees,
rocks or terrain) or man-made (shed or windbreak) to ward off sun, wind, cold
precipitation, and insects.
There should be free choice salt and mineral
blocks at all times.