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Rosebud64 04-09-2010 07:48 PM

Putting Horses on Pasture
Forgive me if this is stupid but I am a lifetime boarder now farm owner and am learning.

How do I wean horses onto pasture? I know I can only let them out for a while, but how much time the first day (pasture they are going in is still very short) should they get and how much do I increase it each day until I can leave them out there full time.

Both horses I am sure have never been on real pasture for the last 10 years. One is 17 and one is 30 (or so).

Thanks for your patience with me :D

MIEventer 04-09-2010 08:09 PM

I would do it slowly - just as you would when introducing a new grain/feed.

I would start out with a 1/2 hour first for a couple of days and then increase to an hour for a couple of days to an hour and a half for a couple of days, to 2 hours and so on and so on.

My guy was at a large Eventing/Fox Hunting barn for about 6ish years, which had no pasture at all, just very large dirt paddocks that had tons of round bales sparatically placed in each to accomodate the # of horses in each padock.

Then when we moved to my MIL's farm, he went from hay 24/7, to 15 acres of pasture.

That's what I did - I introduced him to grass slowly. He was able to get free access to hay at all times throughout the process, slowly weaning him off of hay, the more he was increasing grass. Even when he was on grass pasture, he still got hay - he just didn't eat as much as he would when there was no pasture.

thunderhooves 04-09-2010 08:12 PM

If it's short, just put him in. Thats what we did with my mare. the pastrue was dead and short(September), so we put her in and she ran around checking things out, neighed a lot, and settled in nicely.
Of course, it depends on the size of the pasture and the horse. In a huge pasture, maybe go slower.

Kayty 04-09-2010 08:35 PM

Yep, I agree with Thunderhooves. If the pasture isn't too rich at the moment, I'd just put them straight out and just keep an eye on them for the first week. Maybe bring them in at night as well.

Its when you put long term stall kept horses into a very rich paddock straight away that you can have problems.
If your paddock IS rich, then as MIEventer said, introduce them slowly, put them out for maybe an hour a day. Or alternatively, try sectioning off the paddock and allowing them to have a small block to eat for the day to get them used to being back on grass, without being able to gorge themselves silly.

My Beau 04-09-2010 08:47 PM

What MIEventer said :)

I get to play the "put horses out for 1/2 an hour on nice grass, then spend another 1/2 an hour trying to catch them and put them back in the sacrifice paddock" starting in May... can't wait :lol:

eventerdrew 04-09-2010 08:57 PM

I agree with MIEventer. With this new spring grass, you're not going to want them out there all the time if they're not used to it.

At a boarding barn, my first horse was put out on a grassy pasture for a week straight (spring grass), he got laminitis, foundered, and had to be put down. Now I'm very cautious about my horses and the pasture.

MIEventer 04-09-2010 09:01 PM

I am so sorry about that Drew :( :( I wish I could change that for you.

The barn that I board at, the horses were off pasture for the whole fall and winter. Now that spring is here and the pastures are growing, the horses are only alowed out there for short periods of time to start.

Horses can colic when introduced to grass too quickly, even for those who live on pasture every summer. Colic is very common in the spring due to horses being introduced to pasture too quickly from the transition from winter hay to spring grass.

So just be careful - go slow.


I get to play the "put horses out for 1/2 an hour on nice grass, then spend another 1/2 an hour trying to catch them and put them back in the sacrifice paddock" starting in May... can't wait :lol:
LOL Beau! I cannot wait to hear the stories of this adventure!

eventerdrew 04-09-2010 09:07 PM

Yeah I felt bad because he was only 7. Needless to say we never went back to that barn. ever. But he died when he was in TX, he was an exchange for Uma so unfortunately someone else had to deal with those consequences :(

PechosGoldenChance 04-09-2010 09:23 PM

EventerDrew: WOW! Very sorry to hear about that horse of yours. I would have been so mad. Glad you're very cautious now, and that you don't still go to that barn either.

What we do is basically the same. Even a little slower. We put them out for 20 mins for a few days, than a half hour for a few days, than around 50 mins for a few days, than an hr for a few days, than and hr and a half for a few days, than so on and so on until they can be left out most of the day.

MIEventer 04-09-2010 09:40 PM

That's a great system Pechos!

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