With the nasty winter weather behind us we can start looking forward to some beautiful days ahead. With the change in seasons comes the need for the annual spring cleaning. As the winter snow melts away it is a good time to prepare your pasture for the upcoming use during the next seasons. Here are some helpful tips for maintaining your pasture.
Step 1) Check pasture.
Do a walk through of the entire pasture, check for anything that could harm your horse. Such as glass, barbed wire, splintered wood, metal and holes. If there is broken glass make sure you check that area thoroughly as there might be more. With thick rubber gloves and a shovel remove any unwanted items from the pasture. Logs, fallen trees and other debris could be a safety hazard to a curious horse.
Step 2) Fill in holes
Its time consuming and hard dirty work but it has to get done. Holes in your pasture could seriously injure a horse if they stepped in to one. Fill in any hole large enough to stick your fist into. Keep in mind if you can see the bottom of the hole it could be a snake, gopher or other animals hole. Make sure you check on the locations that you filled in to make sure the dirt hasn’t settled and formed another hole.
Step 3) Weeding
Eradicate weeds, and other poisonous plants trees and grasses. For the oblivious reasons poisonous plants should be removed. But the non harmful weeds? They suck the life out of the good grasses that your horses like. So by removing the weeds you are allowing more room for the good stuff to grow. Check with your local vet, and state resources if you are unsure of what is poisonous in your area.
Step 4) Fencing
Walk the fence line checking to make sure there are no repairs needed. Loose boards or nails need to be removed or shored up. Make sure to double check all gates for wear and replace anything if necessary. Its much easier to keep your horses in then to have to round them up if they have gotten out.
Horses need free access to water at all times. Make sure any ponds or streams are ok for the horse to drink out of. Clean out troughs and any feed buckets or bins.
While these are just basics there are more things to know about your pastured horse. Over grazed pastures are always an issue make sure you have at least 2 acres per horse or are rotating pastures to prevent over grazing. Always check with local authority’s on the type of soil and grasses that grow in that area as well as any issues the land might have. Forage is a major part of a horse's diet. Have you pastures tested to make sure they are standing up to and providing the proper amounts of energy for your horse to use. Remember to introduce horses to new green pastures slowly as sudden changes in diet could cause serious health issues. Horses with laminitis, who have foundered in the past or have other metabolic issues should be limited on pasture time as free access to hay/grass can cause complications. Always check with your vet or trainer.