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Draft horses and pasture wear

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  • Draft horses and pasture wear

    We recently got a new boarder - a draft mare. The horse is very sweet, but is really causing serious wear to our pasture footing. I have never seen the pasture look so bad. Is this common with heavy horses? If so, what do people usually do? Do people charge more to board drafts as compared to "average" sized horses?

  • #2
    My Irish Draughts put far less wear on the pastures than the TBs did.. They are much more sedentary than the TBs and don't gallop around the pasture kicking out fences.

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    • #3
      Drafts can be hard on fences, but not pastures particularly. I have one that boards with me -- no problem. Plus I am a light draft horse breeder.

      I don't know where the OP is located, but my pastures never look very nice this time of year.
      Where Fjeral Norwegian Fjords Rule
      http://www.ironwood-farm.com

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      • #4
        We have two horses that wear a size 3 shoe-we don't see any more wear and tear b/c of them. Weight distribution...
        “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” Stephen R. Covey

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        • #5
          I'd love to get a good look at the PSI hitting the ground for average breeds at rest.... and then for a history lesson, compare it to Hannibal and his elephant army :=)
          Nudging "Almost Heaven" a little closer still...
          http://www.wvhorsetrainer.com

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          • #6
            I have a Clyde-X and a Percheron but don't see anymore wear on the pastures then when there were only light horses in it.
            <>< Sorrow Looks Back. Worry Looks Around. Faith Looks Up! -- Being negative only makes a difficult journey more difficult. You may be given a cactus, but you don't have to sit on it.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Belg View Post
              I'd love to get a good look at the PSI hitting the ground for average breeds at rest.... and then for a history lesson, compare it to Hannibal and his elephant army :=)
              74-78 PSI versus ~22 psi...
              Nudging "Almost Heaven" a little closer still...
              http://www.wvhorsetrainer.com

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              • #8
                Tough on Fencing (electric is a good idea with drafts ) but no worse on pasture..
                Pao Lin

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                • #9
                  Could just be that having the extra horse, pushed the wear on your grasses over the limit during this season. Does she drag her feet at all to make wear "harder" on the soil or field?

                  We have had only small horses and now all larger horses. The big horses here wear 4-5 size light horse shoes. They are NOT drafts, but have good size feet for their large bodies. ALL of the equines make trails in the pasture. There is a LOT of wear and tear at the gates. This is both barefoot and shod horses. I think it is more numbers of hooves, active animals, than how they land if they are good movers.

                  I have good pastures, deep rooted grasses that get rained on well, so usually there isn't much "wear and tear" out in the fields during the growing season. They run and gallop, bare and shod, grass takes it with no holes left behind. Some paths develop where they ALL travel to come down the lane or around the gates.

                  If your pasture is less well rooted, on thin ground, no turf appearance, maybe it will show more wear with the added horse using it.

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                  • #10
                    Have a small (16.1)full draft, size 6 shoe, not currently shod, but I only notice extra wear when ground is wet, like now, it is damp and just can't get the chance to dry out before it rains again, but that is why I have sacrifice runs. The 14.3 size 00 shoe QH tears her side up more than the draft. In summer no difference in wear on the grass areas.
                    "They spend 11 months stuggling to live, and 25 years trying to die" my farrier

                    "They are dangerous on both ends and crafty in the middle"

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                    • Original Poster

                      #11
                      Thanks for the replies.

                      It is definitely worse since it has been muddy. This mare paces a lot, and when she does, you can see how heavily she digs into the soil. (She weighs probably 2,000 pounds and does not pick up her feet - she digs them in to the ground). She is in a pasture that previously had 3 horses in it at once and never looked this chewed up, regardless of the weather. She is not shod.

                      Re. the fencing - yes, she has already broken numerous rails by leaning on them.

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                      • #12
                        Freshley- I will back you up on your observation... but I can't give you a solution. I have had both draft horses and large ponies at my farm for the past 15 years. Our soil is clay, and terrian is both flat and rolling... most of our winters are spent in a freeze thaw cycle- so an extended mud season.

                        Draft horses do a tremendous amount of damage in terms of turf, as well as traffic area drainage. If I have a place where I only turn ponies out- near the gate where they mill around, may get worn bare and patted down into little hoofprints... I can turn a draft horse in the same spot and it only takes an hour before he can work that same area up into muck six to ten inches deep... the giant potholes he leaves will then fill with water and cause a vicious cycle of staying wetter and getting muckier.

                        When I walk a horse across wet grass, he may leave hoofprints... while the draft horse will drag six inch long skids off the turf at every step and push up a little turfgrass "dam" at the toe... these work like little miniature farmponds all across the hillsides- so that even the best draining areas of the farm can now hold some water.

                        Yes- draft horses are most certainly harder on pastures than other horses.

                        We recently built a new house and one of my pastures will be quite close to the house and I had already made up my mind that my draft won't ever be turned out in that one because when I look out the window I don't want it to look like a 4WD mudbog.

                        You aren't being crazy and it's not that this mare has pushed you over your pasture's limit... they really do more damage.

                        It's not so much that I can't tolerate the mess the draft makes, it's that I feel bad that the ponies have to deal with the churned up mess that they didn't make- although they all get along- I am working toward designated pony pastures just to limit the zones of the draft damage.

                        If anyone has any doubt, I think they should set up two coral panel stalls out on grass and put a draft in one and a 16 hand TB in the other and just see what is there at the end of the day.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by IronwoodFarm View Post
                          Drafts can be hard on fences, but not pastures particularly.
                          That's been my experience as well.

                          Though if the mare is pacing, that could certainly cause a lot of wear and tear, but that's not a problem I'd consider inherent in drafts.
                          "In order to really enjoy a dog, one doesn’t merely train him to be semi-human. The point of it is to open oneself to the possibility of becoming part dog."
                          -Edward Hoagland

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by frehley View Post
                            We recently got a new boarder - a draft mare. The horse is very sweet, but is really causing serious wear to our pasture footing. I have never seen the pasture look so bad. Is this common with heavy horses? If so, what do people usually do? Do people charge more to board drafts as compared to "average" sized horses?
                            My Draft type horse is very hard on the pasture, but with his teeth!

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              My Irish horses are hard on fences and doors and gates and stallwalls...and I must have different Irish Draughts than AKB because mine are very active, play all the time, cover the whole field and are tough on the pasture because of that. Fortunately or unfortunately I haven't much grass to rescue and have sand base so it isn't a problem. Electric solves the other problem. I LOVE watching them, I call it Irish Draught TV, but they are not sedate...not at all. Fun loving yes. PatO

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                              • #16
                                I've had a draft horse and other breeds for many years, and I don't see any difference in the wear and tear on the footing. In fact, drafties are less apt to go tearing around and around the field because they run out of gas pretty quickly. :-)
                                However, if they figure out that they can push on a fence for greener grass on the other side, you've got trouble, so I agree with paohatch about the electric fencing.
                                Drafties are generally sweet natured and fun to have around, and while they produce a little more manure than smaller horses, they are also usually very easy keepers.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Might have to do with just the mares way of being... I've had both light and heavy (2000 lbs + clydes) and I would say when they get going its the light horses that tore my fields to hell far more then the big paddle feet of the clydes.

                                  But using the fence as their personal scratching post - not a good thing - we always electrified our fences.

                                  Maybe once the mare calms down she might do less ware and tear, but I wouldn't be so quick to paint all heavy horses with this destructive brush.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    I agree with those who say Draft breeds as a whole are not much harder on a pasture than a light breed horse - However, if this mare is pacing, she is going to do a lot more damage than a light breed horse pacing because of the sharp turns that pacing horses make, the heavier horse will dig in deeper than a light horse. Is the horse out alone? Is that why she could be pacing? Did she do it at her old barn? Could you turn her out with tranq for a few days to see if she will settle in easier? (and be easier on your field) Or if she is alone, just try to put her out with other horses and see if she stops?

                                    I also think you should hot wire the top board of your fence to keep her from leaning on it.

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