Pasturing a horse year round offers easy maintenance and is low-cost compared to stabling a horse. However this does not mean you can leave your horse in a field and forget about him. A horse that lives outdoors most of its days can turn a suitable field into an unsuitable eye-sore if left alone to graze. To maintain the quality of grazing and to offer your horse a suitable field you will need to maintain the field for your horse. Good field maintenance is important to your horse’s health.
In order to maintain the quality of grazing for your horse, field rotation is best. A horse requires a minimum of 1 acre (0.4 hectares) for grazing. Dividing the area into separate fields will enable you to rotate the grazing. Horses graze selectively, so a field left unmanaged will result in areas grazed right down and other areas that the horse has left untouched will become overgrown with weeds.
Requirements for a suitable field:
• Fences should have rounded corners to prevent injury
• Supply fresh drinking water
• Fence off any poisonous trees
• The grass should be weed free and of equal height
• The field should not be too steep
• The field should offer shelter and security
• The field needs to drain well, particularly at the water trough and gate
• Avoid low lying areas as these tend to get muddy in winter
• An access road must be accessible in all weather conditions
• Position the shed with safety in mind
• Remove droppings from the field weekly
• Pasture is free of trash and foreign objects
• Check fencing and gates often and do any repairs if you note anything that needs mending.
Proper field maintenance will prevent your horse from escaping and straying or injuring itself. Select your hardware with your horses health and care in mind, such as when selecting the type of fencing for your field. Barbed wire is fine for sheep or cattle, but your horse is more than likely to sustain an injury as horses have fine skin.