Tip #6: Feed care­fully.

Horse & Rider - - Practice Pen Conformation Clinic -

Never feed horses on grass or pre-ex­ist­ing mud. In­stead, feed in feed­ers placed on gravel (or what­ever foot­ing you’ve cho­sen). Feed­ing hay on the grass pas­ture will con­trib­ute to veg­e­ta­tion break­down, and left­over hay scraps will break down in the soil, adding or­ganic ma­te­rial to the mix and mak­ing mud worse. Re­mem­ber: All grav­eled ar­eas should be raked and cleaned daily, which will pre­vent any hay scraps from break­ing down and con­tribut­ing to mud. trib­ute to veg­e­ta­tion break­down. There’s no doubt about it: Less horse traf­fic means less mud. As a rule of thumb, each horse should have be­tween one and two acres of pas­ture avail­able for a full­time turned-out lifestyle.

If that space isn’t avail­able, con­sider set­ting up sac­ri­fice ar­eas on your farm—gravel pad­docks where horses can be kept to pro­tect grass pas­tures dur­ing rainy pe­ri­ods. If sac­ri­fice ar­eas aren’t an op­tion, you might have to cut back turnout time, es­pe­cially dur­ing winter months.

it’s less likely to break down un­der the de­mands of graz­ing horses. A happy pas­ture re­quires care­ful man­age­ment. Col­lect a soil sam­ple ev­ery few years and sub­mit it for anal­y­sis. Your lo­cal feed store can prob­a­bly rec­om­mend a lab to an­a­lyze the sam­ple. Based on the re­sults, you should de­ter­mine what ad­di­tives your soil re­quires, in­clud­ing fer­til­izer, lime, or other min­er­als.

Fer­til­iz­ing is best done in the fall, when weeds have died back and grasses are dor­mant, al­low­ing fer­til­izer to im­pact the roots. Grass with a healthy root sys­tem is more likely to flour­ish, and deeper roots can reach far­ther in the ground for wa­ter, al­low­ing pas­tures to sur­vive even dur­ing dry sum­mer months.

The pH of your soil is equally im­por­tant. If the pH is too low, the nu­tri­ents will be un­avail­able for ab­sorp­tion by the grasses. Lime helps to raise the pH of your soil, and can be added at any time of year.

Fi­nally, oc­ca­sional over-seed­ing will help for­tify the grass and keep it grow­ing strong. Although it’s best to seed when pas­tures are rest­ing, you can still get good re­sults as long as the area isn’t too over­crowded. In fact, horses’ hooves can help push the seed into the soil and en­cour­age it to grow. If you have com­pletely bare ar­eas that re­quire more ren­o­va­tion, use tem­po­rary fences to pro­tect the ar­eas while grasses grow. Be sure to clean them care­fully sev­eral times each week, and in­spect the skin un­der­neath to en­sure that it’s still healthy. If you must trim your horse’s legs, con­sider a thick ap­pli­ca­tion of De­sitin oint­ment over the pastern area to act as a mois­ture bar­rier and pre­vent bac­te­ria or other or­gan­isms from gain­ing ground.

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