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  • Writer's picturePhilip

Neigh it up.

Each year I am asked about management of horse paddocks by clients who need better and more consistent grazing for either their friend, “Get a life, get a horse” or for business “Stallion Stables, Where Champions Are Made.”

Fields in which horses are kept have to meet a range of demands which extend to providing a safe grazing environment in order to maintaining animal health or simply somewhere to exercise.

It is worth remembering that through the calendar year a horse will chew through around 10 hectares worth of pasture. If you have the allotted 0.6 – 0.8 ha of land for each animal you are going to be under grazing pressure so it would be wise to do everything you can to keep good quality grass within the field or your feed bill will sky rocket.

It has been my observation that horses are great at making mud, their hooves chew up wet ground very efficiently. The average horse seems to have a definite “boy racer” attitude to life. There’s nothing like a drag race up the paddock to liven up the morning and if you can throw in a sliding stop at the end on rain-sodden ground, all the better.

Mud is therefore your number one enemy. It mixes with manure and the resulting soup encourages the growth of bacteria. Insects, including flies, will find it a great breeding ground. It cause is the start of soil compaction and any surviving grass will be poor in all respects. Worse still, there’s a chance that weeds with proliferate in these areas.

So this autumn (September to November) what should I be doing around my paddock or field?

Check, maintain and improve existing drainage by keeping ditches clear of plants and debris.

Continue to check for and control ragwort.

Assess grass plant populations for suitability and productivity for next season.

Be mindful of Acorns and Sycamore seeds along with the resultant saplings.

Get a soil sample taken from the field and have it analysed.

Check there’s hard standing around gates and water troughs ready for winter and don’t forget to check water trough pipes and make sure they're insulated ready for the winter.

With all things, create a management programme for better more productive grass in 2024.


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