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New to grass turnout - is this ok?

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  • New to grass turnout - is this ok?

    I just recently had more of my property fenced, which finally gives my horses grass turnout. They are typically turned out in dry lots attached to their stalls 24/7.

    I would guess the area that is newly fenced is around an acre, but the grass is far from lush - it is pretty sparse at the moment, but I'm planning on aerating and overseeding this fall (and keeping the horses off of it for the majority of the winter - our ground gets too soft here) so hopefully next year it's a little better.

    I'm currently letting my two horses have access to the pasture from their paddocks for 2 hours each morning. Is this too long to keep the grass in decent shape? Or can I go a little longer?


  • #2
    How many horses?

    I've read that limiting the time on the grass will make them graze faster/more aggressively. Are you more concerned about them being on grass or concerned about the grass being eaten?
    COTH's official mini-donk enabler

    "I am all for reaching out, but in some situations it needs to be done with a rolled up news paper." Alagirl


    • #3
      I think two horses on an acre will do okay, but parts of it (near the gate and water, for example) may get pretty beat up. But if you're going to be aerating and seeding later, do you care?


      • Original Poster

        TheJenners - A horse and large pony. The pony needs to be limited, he's a little fat, and my horse doesn't love turnout and is usually back in his stall within an hour or two, or as soon as he decides it's too hot or buggy.

        Simkie - My main concern is overgrazing the area, I'd like to keep enough grass out there to keep them happy!

        So could I leave them out longer than 2hrs/day?


        • #5
          I think it really depends on how much is out there now Do you have pics?

          It might be useful to take a pic now, and then take another in a week or two. Compare and see if you're okay with the level of use. Then adjust. It can be hard to judge if you're looking at it every day.

          Some points of reference: my main pasture is maybe an acre and a half, on pretty crappy soil, and I turn out two from 8 am ish - 6 pm ish daily as the ground allows (I don't put horses out there when it's wet) and I don't think they're beating it up terribly. Sure, the stuff near the gate is pretty short, but you get just a little further in and it looks good. And that's with a lot of weeds, too.

          In MN, the soil was SO good that I never worried about overgrazing. Had four horses on 2, 4 or 6 acres, depending on what fields were in use. My sacrifice area was about 100' x 100' and would be totally dirt and mud in Feb, and lush, lush grass (not weeds!) in July. It was just crazy how well stuff grew.


          • #6
            It's going to depend on your weather a lot, too. Heat, rain, and flies will also have an impact. As with most things with horses, the answer is, "It depends."


            • #7
              Seeding this Fall will still mean root systems are fragile in the Spring. I would say little to no turnout there over Winter, none while the ground is at all soft, and over next Spring-Fall, still limited turnout. It really takes about a year for a good root system to develop.

              Whether the 2 horses, for 2 hours every day, is too much, remains to be seen. It all depends on how much growth there is, which depends on rainfall and the type of grass. Right now, here, growth is pretty much stopped, and won't really start until Sept or so unless we end up in another phase of enough rain (which is unlikely). 4 horses in muzzles all day on 8 acres of pretty dense grass will still get the pasture eaten down by August or so, other than the high spots from potty areas.

              You will need to pick up all manure every day, and mow down areas that start getting too tall, so you don't allow the grazeable area to keep shrinking.
              The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET