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Your suggestions for maintenance/rotation?

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  • Your suggestions for maintenance/rotation?

    Of this property/layout situation:


    I've seen many 'farmettes' that the smaller pastures are just NOT maintained at all, are just dust fields, and mud slides. And, I've seen others beautifully kept up with green grass!

    I know, this is the difference in rotation and maintaining properly.

    As you can see, this property has limited turn out and I'd love your suggestions on rotation/time on time off for the day I'll be keeping horse here full time. For discussion, it would be nice to imagine 2 horses/one mini or small pony/companion : MAX.

    Run in Shed is attached to the 'sacrifice' area which is approx.
    60x80. When horses are on 'this' side of the driveway (in any configuration of open / or not open gates for other access) the water and hay will probably be available in the run in.....So, I can certainly see 'this' side of the drive way turnout being used most in the heat of summer and the cold of winter, for ease and shade and protection.

    This sacrifice area has the gate / access ability into two other grass spaces. one: adjoining grass paddock: 60x 120

    the other: grass dressage arena : 70 x 200 to double as turnout, but hopefully maintained carefully if possible.

    Across the driveway, is one grass area, not divided: 140 x 175

    Open to any/all insights as to what I could expect or should be aware of or should be planning on for the maintenance of keeping this green and thriving!

    Thanks in advance!
    "Indecision may or may not be my problem"
    --Jimmy Buffett
  • Original Poster

    Bueler? Bueler?

    sorry...I was at post #699, and thought I'd use a bump (!) on this one to get to #700---

    Really, though---anyone? I know I gave a lot of info, but I thought that might help? I'd really like to 'do this right' and be prepared for how to take care of it...from those who do the 'small acreage rotation' thing well !

    TIA !
    "Indecision may or may not be my problem"
    --Jimmy Buffett


    • #3
      The pictures are lovely but still have a hard time picturing the layout. 40 x 80 is not very large for "turnout", although it's vastly better than nothing. I would plan on keeping them out there basically 24/7 if possible. You will have to pick up that space EVERY day to prevent it from becoming a cesspool. I would consider turning the 60 x 120 space in to a sacrifice area, as well, simply to give them some room to roam and spend a large majority of their time. If the two spaces could be made into one, that would be perfect--that's plenty of room for horses to stretch their legs, wander at will, trot and canter a little bit, etc. I would not use the dressage area for turnout except in a very limited fashion, and only when the footing is PERFECT (no mud). The grass paddock across the driveway would be your "grazing" area, and there's no way that amount of grass is going to serve as anything but entertainment/mental health grazing. Plan on feeding hay year-round, and plan on having them spend only maybe 4-6 hours a day grazing out there, also being very vigilant about the footing, mowing, dragging, fertilizing, lime, etc.
      Click here before you buy.


      • #4
        to keep that limited turnout green, you are really going to need to keep hay on hand and plan on using your sacrifice area a lot. you are just going to have to watch the weather and the condition of your paddocks to determine when you can have horses out.
        * trying hard to be the person that my horses think i am


        • Original Poster

          thanks guys! I always knew haying would be a big necessity... in re: the 'sacrifice'...its 60 x 80, (not 40 ? ft. wide)...it connects to another 60 x 120...(which, yes, can be left open, or not) and also connects to the 'dressage' arena (70x120)...'dressage' arena was created in the layout to be of the necessary dimension...but was always (!) intended for turnout as well. We knew it would have to remain in grass and double for grazing. then, there is the 'larger' turnout, across the driveway (140 x 175) that is not divided or cross fenced.
          I did hope the pix would help 'show' the fencing divides/etc.

          Yes...we always knew rotation/haying/cross fencing/and maintaining these areas was going to be the key! That was certainly why we were so careful in planning the fencing/gates, etc... I was just interested in anyone else who had similar sized turnouts, and what they found? would keep them green, how to manage, etc!

          (There is a small farm not even 2 miles away, that has a close cropped/mowed 'turnout' that also doubles as frontage on their home that I hope to get the nerve to knock on their door one day and introduce myself and inquire as to their methods!)

          "Indecision may or may not be my problem"
          --Jimmy Buffett


          • #6
            Yep, we have hay available year round, and are mowing and clearing in anticipation of pasture number four, which will be the biggest at 400 x 100. After that will be a modified pasture paradise, ie using all the alleys and the wildlife corridor between the orchards and the perimeter fences. Our other pastures are two at roughly 60 x 150 and another at 80 x 300.

            The horses are out about 6-10 hours per day, we pick manure faithfully in the smallest pasture closest to the house, not quite so faithfully in the ones further away but do mow faithfully. If it is too wet outside, the horses stay stuck in the 16 x16 pens.

            They don't like it, I don't like it, but the alternative is rapid degradation. We have one pasture that is mostly sloping and they were there for a couple of months 24/7. The horses will slip and slide on a wet slope and tear the grass right out of the ground. that pasture took a beating and is just now coming back. On flat ground, if it is too wet you'll get shoe stealing nasty muck in no time, that will take weeks to firm back up and the grass will be trompled into it and gone gone gone. So the horses are now sort of stuck with that shorter turn out until we come up with the time and cash to get more fences up.

            And with all that I didn't answer the OP. I'd stay out of the dressage arena except during the most perfect weather. For two horses I'd go with DW's suggestions. I don't think you'll be able to keep any grass in your sacrifice area unless you take away turnout time. I know in our case that the old guy is better with the turnout - we started MSM and that is helping but with 24/7 turnout he could be so much better.
            Last edited by ReSomething; Jun. 26, 2010, 09:18 PM. Reason: answer the question dummy!
            Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
            Incredible Invisible


            • #7
              I'd have them out as much as possible in the sacrifice lot--24/7 and cope with mud in season.

              I think if you did 4-8 hours of grazing in the grass paddocks you would likely do two weeks on one while the other rested, then mow it off, chain harrow to break up the manure, and swap to the rested paddock. The mowing will help with weed control and the harrow will reduce the size of the toilet areas. Compost your manure if possible and spread in the spring and fall while the pastures are being rested. I have a baby sized spreader that I can pull with my ride on lawn mower while the other half uses our tractor to fill it.


              • #8
                Im totally useless when it comes to feet measurements. I have a much easier time picturing .25 acre, .5 acre, etc.

                With that said, I have 3 acres here and it is sub divided into 1.5 each. One 1.5 acre has the house, shop, big oaks, pond, and a smaller grass area behind the oaks where I drive the horse trailer to turn out, etc and then our front yard.

                The other 1.5 acre has the barn (20x50) which is a shed row. I have cross fenced this 1.5 to maybe just under .25 an acre behind the barn, then a bigger pasture in front of the barn, the biggest, which is like just over .75 acre, and then the other pasture, odd shape, but it is roughly .5 acre.

                When I just had 2 horses here, it was REALLY easy to keep grass (I only have the horses on the 1.5 acre for now with maybe a few hours on the weekends when I would let them over to the house side but it is a treat and not the norm). I didnt really have to rotate per say in such a strict routine though if I noticed one pasture becoming a little short in grass, Id close it off until it rebounded.

                Now that I have 3 horses, I have to be a little more strict about my pastures. The smaller paddock behind the barn is my "sacrafice" area (except in the winter) as it is the highest area and more sandy so even if we are flooded (which happens unfortunately a lot here in FL) it drains well and the bermuda in this area rebounds FAST. I

                Since this past winter was my first time dealing with 3 horses, Ill just tell you what I did.

                Since the largest pasture is also my "arena" and I knew it would be beat up even if I kept them off of it, it was my sacrafice area this winter. I overseeded my paddock behind the barn and the far pasture for grazing as a special treat. I had a round bale at all times in the large pasture and they were out 24/7 except for a few hours at night and an hour or so in the AM for feed/hay.

                After my paddock and far pasture grew in and took root, I would let them out to the far pasture for maybe 3-4 hours a day for one week, rest it, let them behind the barn for 3-4 hours, rest, etc.

                Yes the big pasture was sparse of any grass BUT I knew that my grass would rebound (we had a REALLY cold winter for FL and actually had over a week with temps dropping into the mid teens so the grass, even the winter rye, wasnt fairing well).

                When I was ready to prep my big pasture for recovering from the winter, I put my round pen panels across the width of the pasture to keep them off of it. There is a approx 20' wide area of sand/dirt in front of my barn where the horses have worn the grass away. It goes the width of the pasture (approx 130'). So I had this as my condensed sacrafice area, with the round bale in there, and again, with the way my gates are set up, similar to like you were mentioning, I could open the gate to either the small paddock behind the barn OR the far pasture and they would be "apart" of the smaller sacrafice area. I did also let them over to the house side as often as I could during this period. This is when I seeded and fertilized my big pasture.

                For the spring, I would do a switch off rotation deal - if I put them behind the barn one day, I would do 2 days in the big pasture, then 1 day behind the barn, etc etc so that I could completely rest one field and not totally use up the other ones. Again, whenever I can on the weekends, I was letting them over to the house side.

                I fertilized my pastures a couple months ago and man, they are going CRAZY. Of course the horses spot graze and the areas they dont eat were getting to be at least 12" tall with bermuda seed pods! I have been keeping the 2 bigger pastures open to each other and closing off the back paddock for now.

                *as a side note, my young horse had surgery and was on stall rest for 2 weeks and then stall with SMALL turnout for another 2 weeks, so this rested my pastures in a way as it didnt have as much grazing on them*

                Now that its just disgustingly hot though, they go out from approx 8am until 12-1pm right now into the big pasture with the gate to the far pasture open. And then they are inside from 1pm-6-7pm with afternoon hay and then dinner and dinner hay. Then from 7pm-7am they are out right now in the big and far pasture.

                I am eventually going to fence in the front yard to have another smaller pasture for them.

                Oh and in the winter, I picked my pastures daily. Actually, since I would get home and it would be pitch black, I would turn on my flood lights that I use to ride under and would make 4-5 large piles of manure as I picked the pasture. Then on the weekends, I could just go around with my utility trailer and shovel the larger manure piles into the trailer and wouldnt be walking all over picking up individual piles. As a bonus, gardeners saw the manure piles and would come over to shovel it into their trucks and I wouldnt have to do it! lol

                In the summer, when it is THIS hot, I just drag my pastures and within like 2 hours the manure is totally dry and breaks down quickly so no fly breeding and no icky areas.

                I think with your set up, esp only 2 full sized horses and a mini/pony, you wouldnt have a problem as long as you kept the pastures picked (or if you are like it is here and its really hot, just drag it) and made sure you seeded and fertilized as needed. Since you have the sacrafice area, I would say you are good to go.

                Heres a pic of my property from above. This image is before we built the house and added the fencing so I drew those in.


                And this is this winter. This is looking into the big pasture and on the other side of the far fence is the far pasture.

                Standing in the barn aisle looking out into the big pasture

                And this is what its like when it floods - standing upstairs in the house looking over to the horse side - the overflowing pond is on the house side and the fence next to it is the dividing fence for the 1.5 acres. Barn is to the right but not in the pic

                Standing 3/4 way back in the back paddock behind barn

                Hope that helps. I am here to say that yes, essentially you can have 3 horses on "1.5 acres" which is basically what I keep them on and STILL have grass.

                OH - final note - so sorry! - NORMALLY I would have had to either 1) ride on my big pasture when it wet in the winter which I didnt want to do or 2) not ride at all when it was too wet.

                The area behind the oak trees behind the house is THE highest/driest area so even when my pastures are squishy and muddy, we can ride behind the trees. HOWEVER, I am very fortunate that my new neighbor who bought the farm next to my house put in an arena (and of all luck, shes a dressage rider!) and let me have full access to her facilities as needed. We just had to hack down the road (thankfully we have over 30' of shoulder/ditch from where we had to ride and the road) and we were able to ride in her arena and not tear up my grass. THAT really helped too.

                Member of the ILMD[FN]HP Clique, The Florida Clique, OMGiH I loff my mares, and the Bareback Riders clique!


                • #9
                  It would be easier to maintain this if you were on sand. But at least you get decent grass up your way.

                  If you can afford it, do the sacrifice area with geotextile fabric and pea gravel. It will keep the mud at bay so you are less likely to end up with a nasty mess. You will end up with fewer hoof issues.

                  Then get ready to feed a lot of hay. You might consider investing in some slow feeders, or building your own, to keep waste to a minimum. I currently spread my hay in small piles in my pasture, but it is messy and there is a decent amount of waste. It also kills the grass for a bit until the hay breaks down. I highly recommend not doing it like I do.

                  If they all get along just fine, then I would leave them out 24/7 in your sacrifice paddock, with plenty of hay to keep them from being brats. And then depending on the weather, turn them out on whichever pasture has the best grass at the time. That will allow you to rest certain pastures as then need it, but then you can keep them all up if it's especially muddy.

                  And watch the footing in that riding area. I am guessing you are on a lot of clay, and I remember that can get NASTY in the wetter season, or rock-hard in the dry season. It's not a footing I would want to use on a daily basis, especially if you are getting into collection. You might consider bringing in some sand to put on top of the clay. It wouldn't be the ideal arena, but it would give a bit more spring, and the grass would grow through it to hold it in. It still would tend to get nasty in the wet season, but you will just have to be very careful.

                  Also with your arena, make sure to keep it dragged frequently. Otherwise you will end up with grass growing through the poop, and it will be very lumpy. And that SUCKS to ride on, even when the soil is beach sand. I'm looking at $1k in sand to fix mine. The previous owners never dragged and mowed infrequently, and it shows.


                  • Original Poster

                    Thank you guys so much!
                    I really (!!!) appreciate the time you took to evaluate and make those suggestions.
                    Yes, manure management is going to be a big key and so 'far' I haven't faced that, with just 'visiting' there right now. I'm expecting to build a manure bay/composting area but also to purchase a newer spreader and spread often on the 'resting' field. Its funny, because I know right now I make any driver by or a neighbor VERY curious of what I'm doing, when...I'm walking around the turn outs with my manure fork, scooping and FLINGING as I find piles, in order to break them all up and scatter them after each 'visit.'

                    KTBM: thanks so much for the photos, too! What a beautiful spot you have!
                    --- This entire property is like 4.90 acres...BUT...most? of that is woods/ravine to a creek all across the back of the property ---so, I'd wager its got perhaps two acres cleared/fenced out front.

                    HB : Y'know its funny, because the ground there is TOTAL sand. I guess its that area of SE VA, near enough to the bay? or because of the York River? I dunno, but I pretty much knew I'd not have any problem having to 'foot' / create the sacrifice area....I did do bluestone in the run in and for a bit 'out front' of it, but honestly, the ground drains just as well.
                    The fact I wanted the Ramm/tension fencing initially worried me (!) because of the ground---I'm hoping just cementing the corners/brace posts will end up sufficient over time!

                    And I agree with a slow hay feeder too at a time when horses are there full time. I've had some fun looking at those too (!)
                    I'd like one in the run in, and one that I could put in the 'larger' field across the driveway, but one step at a time!

                    And, I've given the '2 horse + one mini companion' as my 'Max'...I guess I might even only have one horse, one companion. Heck, I'd LOVE it if my horse was one of those RARE horses who loved living alone...but I don't see that happening! With this property being limited, the one thing thats very nice for me, is that the York River State Park is less than 2 miles from the driveway, and it has the nicest trails I've ridden on in VA (!) and I love riding there. Hence, I'm 'expecting' it would be best to have 'two' left back at the property for each other's company when 'one' would haul out.

                    Lots to learn and adjust as we go along. But maintaining the property is a biggie (!) and this really helped.
                    "Indecision may or may not be my problem"
                    --Jimmy Buffett


                    • #11
                      Sand makes a huge difference. Since your location said "the rocky part of KY", and I have lived around in there, I assumed that's where this farm was.

                      Your house and drive and such looks lovely. I'm totally jealous!


                      • #12
                        HB, I live in the rocky part of KY. Ayrabz hasn't got a location in her profile, but has said that the farm is in VA. And it is a nice pocket facility, my place is a bit rougher and hairier with that wonderful clay soil, perfect for Raku ware, LOL!
                        Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
                        Incredible Invisible


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by ayrabz View Post
                          manure bay/composting area
                          this is a fantastic idea. i need one - it needs to be close to the barn but also easily accessible to visiting pick-up truck. i have a couple of neighbors who would LOVE me for this, they'd probably fight over the contents...

                          something to add to jacksdad's honeydo list!
                          * trying hard to be the person that my horses think i am