Spring Pasture Care & Maintenance – Part 2
Good Pastures Make Good Horses
As I mentioned in my previous blog about horse farm pasture maintenance, I have relied heavily on the advice of Roger Allman and Elise Wyer of The Farm Clinic for pasture testing and advice. All horse farm managers should have experts they can call on for specialized services in areas such as pasture maintenance, veterinary services, nutrition advice, or construction and architectural input.
Allman and Wyer have what I consider “words of wisdom” about horse pastures, and they granted permission for me to share these tips with you:
The qualities we look for in horse pastures are quite unique. In most pastures the primary goal is maximum weight production. However, horse breeders have different goals. For horses, we want fields that are nutritionally balanced, palatable, productive and safe.
- Nutritionally balanced: Pasture makes up a large part of a horse’s diet, and great care should be made to make the forage as nutritious as possible. We can influence the nutrients that horses ingest by providing them with the desirable species of grasses and by applying the correct amounts of lime and fertilizer.
- Palatable: The horse is one of the most finicky of all grazing animals and they are very selective in what they will graze. There are many grasses that are more productive than Bluegrass, but they are not as palatable. (While Bluegrass is the grass of choice in Central Kentucky, Coastal Bermuda would be your forage of choice in Florida.)
- Productive: Pastures need to produce enough quality grass to carry the number of horses in the field.
- Safe: A high-quality pasture provides a safe area for exercise. Thick sod provides good footing, with less risk of slipping than in muddy areas. It is also important to have a dense cushion of sod to protect the joints of young horses. Safe pastures also provide enough quality grazing that horses will not be tempted to nibble on poisonous plants.
I hope you take a better look at your horse pastures and have a new respect for their care and maintenance as part of your horse farm management, and as an important part of your horse’s care.
Feel free to send your questions to me at Ron@EquineManagement.com and I’ll try to address them in future blogs.