How many acres per horse?
Okay, So my family might be moving to a 1 acre block to build a house and they said I can have half of the acre for a horse as it is my dream to own a horse. I have had lessons and know how to care for one, and if I get a horse it would be taken to ponyclub & the beach often so would a little bit more than 1/2 an acre be enough with edible grass? thanks! :D
Hi and welcome to HF.
I think a half acre for one horse would get beaten down pretty quickly and your horse would not have much grass left in a short period of time.
Here are some other things to consider:
1. The part of the country you live in and the soil type on the property.
2. If you have a horse at home, aren't you going to need storage and a place for keeping hay (etc)... Will that be part of the 1/2 acre?
3. Will you be planning for stall space or an area that you can contain your horse in should they need to be kept quiet due to injury or other reasons?
Horses can live on 'dry' lots, but that means you would need to make sure that the quality of the feed and hay you provide as forage is sufficient to maintain them.
I am sure posters to this thread will have other things for you to consider as well.
You can make it on 1/2 acre without a problem, but you will have to feed hay year round, clean up manure, and you'll have lots of mud. If you don't mind the extra work, you'll be fine.
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It depends on your land and the quality of grass but generally a horse is going to eat that down pretty quick however you can do it.
There are some great books around on managing small properties for horse.
Some things you need to consider:
- You will have to pick up manure. The more often the better but probably a minimum of a twice a week.
- If you want to keep grazing and grass you might need to divide up your land to "rest" some parts.
- To keep the paddock good you might need to consider keeping your horse yarded and stabled at night
- Most of your horse's roughage will likely need to be from hay - so you'll probably need to provide hay 24/7 and have grass as just nibbling food
- Check council regulations - in some places livestock needs to be kept a minimum distance from neighbours
Choose your horse carefully. Many horses don't do well on their own, and some don't even cope if they can see others. If you get a "good doer" the pasture/hay will go further.
Really run the numbers though. I know a few people with small properties and if you only are keeping a horse or two it can be cheaper (once you put in extra feed, water, fencing, weed control) just paying to keep them somewhere nearby.
ESPECIALLY having a plan to get rid of the manure, unless you want to see your horse's hooves full of thrush all the time and possibly have to deal with white line.
You could always create a compost pile but all of this is going to take major help from your parents.
Tractor Supply does have books that talk about managing horses on small property.
I hate to be the naysayer here but I am sorry, I vote no unless you can find a way to extend that half acre to three acres.
Or you in live in Southern California where there is no grass and all that extra work is a way life for anyone keeping horses in the Low Desert areas:?
I've always kept my horses in pens-that way I know who is eating & drinking & how much. I've been cleaning pens for so many decades-it's just second nature now. Yes, they have turn-out & lots of attention. It's nice not having to worry about kicks & bites & especially wire cuts or other weird injuries. Visitors sometimes wonder if my horses even Poop! The dumpster is right next to the corrals. Keeping everything raked, picked up & out of sight is my work-out!
It can be done and is done consistently in some areas all the time due to limited space availability in some areas. But please be aware that typically the smaller the property the more important and costly the management is.
First thing though - please check with your local county clerks office and find out what the requirements for livestock/horses are in your area are. You will have to check both state and county laws. Some places have no restrictions while others will state that the owner needs to own X amount of land per animal. I would hate to see you bring home a horse to then find out you can't keep it.
Secondly - don't count on grass. It may look nice with grass now, but once the horse starts eating it and its hooves start tearing up the ground - your grass will most likely be a dream of yesterday. Price out hay and factor out year-round feeding in your costs. Manure removal as well - unless you can find a farmer who will take it for free.
Another thing you might want to consider are mini horses instead - especially one that is trained to cart. They are a blast and can feed the horse fix when there is limited space. Just an idea.
Saskia said "Really run the numbers though. I know a few people with small properties and if you only are keeping a horse or two it can be cheaper (once you put in extra feed, water, fencing, weed control) just paying to keep them somewhere nearby."
I think this is good advice, IMO 1/2 an acre for a horse is doable it would not be my first choice. You can also talk to your local 4h club or Pony Club they would have ideas and would be able to help you with Hay prices in your area. Having a barn with a good size stall plus fencing off a turnout area that will never have grass where you horse can be outside without being on the hole 1/2 acre. Then you can turn him out on grass for a few hours at a time to keep some grass.
Also, the amount of poop you are going to be cleaning up every day will really pile up fast, composting will go a long ways but composting isn't just letting the poop set in a pile, it needs turning to really compost well. Once it is composted you still have to do something with you composted pile of dirt.
If I was your parents I would look into boarding rather then trying to keep a horse on a half an acre.
1/2 acre of grass will disappear in no time, and if you live in a rainy area like I do it will turn to 1/2 acre of MUD. It is really hard (almost impossible) to keep manure cleaned up in mud. But if is dry where you are it can probably work, but you will have a lot of extra work to do. Also whatever horse you get should be used to being confined to a small area, or it will be very unhappy at first and may even try to break out.
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