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Pasture Management VS Exercise Paddocks

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    Original Poster

    #21
    Originally posted by Simkie View Post
    I have about 2 acres of grass split between two fields. Four horses, that are out during the day. Yes, having the option to pull them off one field and use the other (or not use either--a good sacrifice area is of HUGE importance) does mean that I get better grass than if it was all one big field. Both fields were ugly when we moved in...they'd been badly managed and were full of weeds. Spraying in the spring and mowing gave me space this year with real, actual grass and I have not had to feed hay in the field this summer, which is very nice.

    It's not ideal by any stretch, and we're actively working to expand and clear forest to get more pasture. But it certainly can be done, and being able to rest portions makes a big difference.
    Thanks so much! That’s encouraging. I am indeed planning on having a few dry lot areas. Once I have the “most weather but not all weather” arena in, it can do double duty as a larger turn out area when I need to save the grass.

    Comment


      #22
      Originally posted by lenapesadie View Post

      Thanks so much! That’s encouraging. I am indeed planning on having a few dry lot areas. Once I have the “most weather but not all weather” arena in, it can do double duty as a larger turn out area when I need to save the grass.
      I'd caution you about using the arena as a turnout. I tried that my first year here, and my horses, at least, are assholes. They paw up the footing either prepping that perfect spot to roll, or in impatience when it's time to come in. Manure and hay will also foul your footing. If you want that space to actually be nice for riding, using it as turnout is probably going to make that pretty difficult :-/

      Comment


        #23
        Mine get turned out together. There is an occasional gallop about, but for the most part the pastures are in okay shape. I am careful to not turn them out when the footing is too wet. The first year I had them home we had 72" of rain and we normally get closer to 41". They spent mid November-May in the sacrifice lot. I had only putting improved footing on a 36x50 section of the 36x150. They spent most of their time on the improved footing. They avoided the muck as much as possible. I now have improved footing on 36x100 of the space. I may or may not put footing on the rest. It's nice to have a bit of grass in there when they are forced off the paddocks.

        Comment


          #24
          Originally posted by lenapesadie View Post

          Thank you! That is very helpful! This property is a total of 3.37 acres so very similar in size. It is set up for irrigation so that’s a big bonus. You were happy with the grass split into two paddocks? Do you think three would have been better or worse?
          The irrigation will be a big help, I didn’t have irrigation in my pastures. I attached a picture of our old set up. The arena was 100x150 if that gives you an idea of the pasture sizes. I think the two were a perfect size for them to be able to run and buck, but not so big they could get a full head of steam and hurt themselves. Three would, I think, be too small. Click image for larger version

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            Original Poster

            #25
            Originally posted by ayrabz View Post
            How much can you / will you be able to set aside for fencing? I don't know how your property is laid out....mine would not accomodate the paddock paradise kinda idea. https://sam.extension.colostate.edu/...em-for-horses/ I WISH I could have. I would have the perimeter fence total surround of prop...and at least a 12 ft wide (minimum) second fence making an alleyway of the whole perimeter, that I could utilze for movement of my horses, ease on a garden tractor , gator or small tractor to travel/work/drop hay at stations...and figure water lines to at least two opposite distance locations for troughs. My property has the majority of the plat in direct drop off in woods to a creek...circling it wasn't doable. But I LOVE the idea. kinda like their 'mosey' sacrifice area. leaving you the interior to work out the other needs.

            and no matter WHAT you do. Manure management is going to be your biggest issue. Hay storage will be a biggie too...with easy access for deliveries. Figure what you have to have in structures/areas. I had to get VERY creative on this property. !! There was NO way for me to have a footed arena. I made one cross fence area the dressage arena size in fencing. But it is in grass. it has to do double duty here. The other side of the driveway is another 'turnout' (I never know what to call my spaces....paddocks? turnouts? small fields? hahaha) Originally it was not cross fenced. Since, I have split it into two but.....its split horizontally across the center of it...and I put a 12 ft. full fold back gate on each end, so I can open it to full circling for riding/grazing when that is wanted. (I'd like to also figure a way to utilize those openings for a cross rail, or a tiny coop...something fun to work over )
            I don’t have any good pictures or sketches yet.

            The property is laid out in a way that is conducive to a Paddock Paradise system. There is an existing field fence buried in a hedge on three sides. Our intention is to place a hot fence inside the hedge to keep horses off the hedge and field fence. This creates a lane that we can drive around property for fence and hedge work. It also gives me an additional riding space. Eventually I would like to have it set up so that I could also turn horses out on the lane to help mow the grass lane!

            Hay storage and delivery is a big deal. We will utilize a T shaped turn around as that fits on the property best.

            Little jumps in the gates sound fun!

            Comment

              Original Poster

              #26
              Originally posted by Simkie View Post

              I'd caution you about using the arena as a turnout. I tried that my first year here, and my horses, at least, are assholes. They paw up the footing either prepping that perfect spot to roll, or in impatience when it's time to come in. Manure and hay will also foul your footing. If you want that space to actually be nice for riding, using it as turnout is probably going to make that pretty difficult :-/
              Horses are hard. The layout in my head has a smaller dry lot, 50x50 as the hub of gates to the turnout system. Hay and water in that smaller area. So theoretically the hay and water mess would be limited to that area, along with the sulking at the gate to come in area.

              I have noticed that there seems to be conflicting schools of thought regarding arena turn out. I wonder if this is related to climate or perhaps the differing construction costs and styles of arenas. At my previous boarding facility, arena turn out was a regular thing. I didn’t notice the riding surface to be damaged by turn out, but I am a low level pleasure rider. Leg yields and cross rails are the height of my ambition lol. Maybe a shoulder in or tiny flower box. Big maybe. The arena will have to double duty unless the grass out performs my expectations (unlikely lol).

              Thank you again for sharing. I’m getting a lot of helpful information here!

              Comment


                #27
                moved the horses into an area that had been fenced off...they complained by mid-afternoon that we were requiring them to work too hard by eating grass, so they retired to the shade of the barn

                Comment

                  Original Poster

                  #28
                  Originally posted by jawa View Post
                  Mine get turned out together. There is an occasional gallop about, but for the most part the pastures are in okay shape. I am careful to not turn them out when the footing is too wet. The first year I had them home we had 72" of rain and we normally get closer to 41". They spent mid November-May in the sacrifice lot. I had only putting improved footing on a 36x50 section of the 36x150. They spent most of their time on the improved footing. They avoided the muck as much as possible. I now have improved footing on 36x100 of the space. I may or may not put footing on the rest. It's nice to have a bit of grass in there when they are forced off the paddocks.
                  Awesome! Thank you for those additional details. It is very helpful to hear about other people’s set ups and experiences! We get a lot of rain here, but it’s so hot most of the year it dries up pretty quick. In the “winter” it’s a problem though

                  Comment

                    Original Poster

                    #29
                    Originally posted by clanter View Post
                    moved the horses into an area that had been fenced off...they complained by mid-afternoon that we were requiring them to work too hard by eating grass, so they retired to the shade of the barn
                    Lol. It’s so hot here that horses want into the barn pretty quick in the afternoon.

                    My mom has a Belgian that abhors bugs. Either we open the gate to let him back into the barn in the afternoon or he makes a new gate!

                    Comment


                      #30
                      Originally posted by lenapesadie View Post
                      Is intensive pasture management going to make an appreciable difference in the amount of quality grass I can produce? For example, is splitting the grass area into thirds going to be more productive than just splitting it into halves? Is it worth it to sacrifice size of paddock? I think thirds would be most useful when establishing winter grazing. But! larger paddocks seem to reduce paddock injuries. I suppose I could sacrifice my dream of an all weather arena and have a turf arena but I really don’t want to.
                      In my experience, cross-fencing and rotation do make a huge difference. I have just under 3 acres of grass, divided into thirds (according to Google Maps they range from 0.85 to 1 acre each) plus a 7,000 sq ft dry lot. I had "2.5 horses" (2 large warmbloods and one mini donkey) for a long time although right now I have 3 horses and no donkeys (boo). When I first built the farm six years ago my ~3 acres was all one paddock and I noticed a HUGE improvement in grass quality when I cross-fenced it, then even more when I added the dry lot. If you're interested, I have a bunch of photos of my paddocks before and after I added the cross-fencing on my blog here: http://thesmallhorsefarm.blogspot.co...th-before.html.

                      As far as two vs three paddocks, I would go for three if possible. In my experience (in a different climate) being able to rest each paddock longer really helps the grass recover. My 0.85-acre paddock is the lowest and can get a bit boggy in wet weather even with the underdrains I had installed, so I don't use it during some times of the year and I really miss having the third option. Also, even if your current horses get along well that may not always be the case and if you have to separate them for turnout, you can still have at least one paddock resting.

                      I second someone else's suggestion upthread to do your cross-fencing with electric, at least at first. That way you have some flexibility as you settle into the property and see how things go. I used Horseguard tape with step-in posts to divide my paddocks thinking I might replace it with something more permanent one day, but it works so well that all I've done is replace every third step-in post with a sleeved T-post for stability. (Confession: I installed the cross-fencing four years ago and I still haven't connected one of my two strands of tape to the fence charger...the horses respect it just fine! In fact the charger is totally turned off right now.) My dry lot has permanent wood and mesh fencing with a gate that opens onto each of the three paddocks, so the horses can live in the dry lot (which has a shelter and auto waterer) and to turn them out all I have to do is open the gate to one of the paddocks. There are pics of the dry lot on my blog too. It's one of my favorite things, next to my arena! (I would not want to sacrifice the all-weather arena either.)
                      Building and Managing the Small Horse Farm: http://thesmallhorsefarm.blogspot.com

                      Comment


                        #31
                        Originally posted by lenapesadie View Post

                        Lol. It’s so hot here that horses want into the barn pretty quick in the afternoon.

                        My mom has a Belgian that abhors bugs. Either we open the gate to let him back into the barn in the afternoon or he makes a new gate!
                        well this morning Lakota came to me to encourage me to let them back in to the same area, he was kind of funny pointing at the gate Over There with his nose... so they are off to work again this morning

                        Comment


                          #32
                          I have both dry lots and fields, and what I use almost all the time is a small 1 acre field, with decent grass, and two of my drylots, for my 2 horses. They both tend to the fatter side, so for me I use dry lots for weight management. I do throw hay, and let them out on grass for between 8-12 hours every day, but not when it's wet. In Maryland, this someone works out so that I have grass just about all through spring/summer/fall.

                          Comment

                            Original Poster

                            #33
                            Libby2563 thanks so much for sharing your experiences and thoughts. I’m leaning towards three paddocks. I only have one horse currently, so part of the barn build will include horse shopping (yikes!). Having the ability to do individual turn out and still have a paddock resting would be ideal. And be handy if I need to do a quarantine with a new horse!

                            Temporary electric cross fencing seems to be the most sensible way to go!

                            The property drains beautifully, it was a major selling point for us. We visited Thursday, the day after Hurricane Sally slammed into the county with historic flooding. Property was high and dry. I was so excited to see that. When we were shopping we had considered another property with a couple more acres but the soil wasn’t nearly as fertile and has a tendency to hold water in that location. I’m very happy we decided on the smaller more useable acreage.

                            Since I’m working with a smaller acreage, I intend to use an overhang on the side of the barn as the “run in shelter” with the dry lot areas attached to that overhang side.

                            I really enjoyed viewing your blog. You’ve invested a lot of time and resources into your farm and it looks fantastic.

                            The arena is a huge deal. Mine will probably never be as nice as yours, but I will love it anyways. I do a lot of Liberty work with my horse and it is very hard to get arena time at a boarding barn for it (naturally). I’m looking forward to not sharing the arena!

                            Comment


                              #34
                              You'll be fine with intense management. Two paddocks will be better than 3 to maintain grass.
                              I'm in FL and overseed a combo of oats and annual rye grass in the winter to keep the weeds from encroaching and give my horses something to do when the Bahia goes dormant. When the Bahia slows down, all sorts of bad weeds take over. You might want to consider something similar.

                              Comment

                                Original Poster

                                #35
                                Originally posted by Goforward View Post
                                You'll be fine with intense management. Two paddocks will be better than 3 to maintain grass.
                                I'm in FL and overseed a combo of oats and annual rye grass in the winter to keep the weeds from encroaching and give my horses something to do when the Bahia goes dormant. When the Bahia slows down, all sorts of bad weeds take over. You might want to consider something similar.
                                Winter grazing is awesome! I hadn’t considered it as weed control before! Good to know.

                                Two paddocks fit in the space a bit better. Do you think the two larger paddocks spread out hoof damage more and therefore allows more grass?

                                On the upside, SO has come to the conclusion that we don’t need a giant lawn all on his own! I’m so proud of him. That increases my grass turnout a fair bit! Yay!

                                Comment

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