pasture help - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 16 Old 08-19-2013, 05:37 PM Thread Starter
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pasture help

How do you recommend taking an over grown 99% dried out pasture to horse friendly pasture? Its about 2-2.5 acres. There are hardly any weeds at all, mostly a mixture of knee high tall, dried grasses/hay mix. It was a cattle pasture just last year and has access to irrigation it just hasn't been irrigated or used this year. We are starting irrigation back up this week. Should we mow the dried stuff down first or just irrigate and throw the horse out on it? There will only be one horse on it so I know it will sustain her perfectly fine just want to make sure the pasture is maintained well.

Would goats be a possible solution to cutting it down and as a "buddy" for the horse?

On another note what about nutrition wise? Isn't grass that has been through drought higher in sugar? What are my founder and colic risks?

Its perfect horse pasture with a nice big run in/stall so I really want to use it.

And lastly what are your opinions on the fence? Its a 4 strand barb wire. Its strung properly, nice and tight, new, no rust, cattle proof. Some people say no on barb wire but this is a nicely done fence.

*Disclaimer: I'm not new to horses or horse ownership. I just want to make sure I have all my ducks in a row. I'm boarding now so it's been awhile since I personally had to worry about grass and fence maintenance (sp?). Thanks in advance!
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post #2 of 16 Old 08-19-2013, 06:24 PM
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I responded to some of this in your other post, but here I'll add that 2 to 2.5 acres will most likely not maintain a horse. I also suggest that a horse used for light work does not need to be on pasture 24/7.

If you can cross fence, do so. And keep your horse up either through the day, or overnight. Irrigate which ever side you aren't using and alternate every 4 to 7 days.

You're feeding hay now, and if you don't want your horse to get bored and chew the barn down, or if the horse drops too much weight, hang a slow feeder bag and continue to put a couple flakes in it when s/he is put up.
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post #3 of 16 Old 08-19-2013, 06:51 PM Thread Starter
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I know she can't live off pasture alone but it will take her some time to do anything detrimental to this area. It sustained 3 cows way better than anyone thought. I did have to pull her off 24/7 pasture because she does too well on it and plumps up very quickly. I think the area is bigger too but owner said 2-2.5 acres.

I have some questions about grazing muzzles because it is going to take some time to get new doors on the run in and I know she doesn't need 24/7 pasture. Any recommendations? How long, how often? Hazards? Also should I let her graze during the day or night? I've heard during the nights the sugar levels drop, making it safer for founder?

I can't cross fence. I might be able to put up some tape and section off areas and it might be possible to fence it down the middle but unsure. She's pretty respectful of fences and usually won't try to venture out of our makeshift grazing pen which is just 3 strands of white electric tape (not hot). Risks? I'm so paranoid lol She's not accident prone but I'd prefer to avoid vet bills when humanly possible :)

Also she has never been stalled as far as I know. She trailers and follows me everywhere even into sheds and such so I'm sure she'll go in the run in/stall but how can I help her adjust to being stuck in one? The stall is going to be very large (bigger than my bedroom lol). It was multiple stalls but the dividers were taken down.

I have the general knowledge I just wanna double check it and see how other people manage.

Eta: she's never unsupervised in the makeshift grazing pen.
She's on a dry lotted acre parcel right now and gets about 30 mins on occasions to graze (no set schedule). She's currently on free fed grass hay and nothing else. She's a very very easy keeper. No weight issues with her other than getting fat easily.
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Last edited by countrylove; 08-19-2013 at 06:54 PM.
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post #4 of 16 Old 08-19-2013, 07:23 PM
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I would never pasture my horse in the pasture fenced in barbed wire, it's just asking for trouble. If a horse somehow gets stuck in it your vet bills will be high or you could lose your horse. Barbed wire is safer with cattle because they have thicker skins than horses.

Also, it doesn't sound like she has been on pasture much lately, so I would introduce her slowly to avoid founder or colic. An hour or so a day to start out and then work her up week by week. Just throwing her out there will be a risk.
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post #5 of 16 Old 08-19-2013, 07:35 PM Thread Starter
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I know there is controversy over barb wire but no one can give me a good reason other than if the fence was loose or poorly done which it isnt. She doesn't lean on fences and I doubt she'd go "through" it either. So I don't see any risks. The skin issue isn't a concern to me. We have tree branches just as sharp and I've seen other horses playing together do more damage than a well designed barb wire fence. Im not about to wrap her in bubble wrap lol but I'm very curious to hear other's opinions.
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post #6 of 16 Old 08-19-2013, 09:59 PM
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I keep horses off the pasture for about 9 hours a day. That seems to keep them from becoming overweight. It works out to either while I'm at my day job, or overnight. But, regardless of my schedule, it seems to be adequate and appropriate for the horses in my care.

She would most likely respect a white tape electric wire to separate the pasture. If you can swing it, it may help keep the whole acreage from getting overused, overgrazed in spots, and encourage the grazing of less desirable, but still non-harmful weeds.

I have not used grazing muzzles because it requires that the horse wear a halter and I prefer to not leave a horse haltered at pasture. But, if that is what I needed to do for a time, I certainly would use one. Just haven't had to.

Most horses do well staying in a run, or run and stall combo. In some urban areas, that's all they ever get and they do alright. But, if you notice excessive signs of boredom there are many, many gadgets on the market to entertain a stalled horse.

Goats can be tough to keep in a pasture. Special "sheep wire" fencing is often required. As much as I like goats, keeping one (or some) in a pasture isn't a challenge I would choose.

Most people object to barbed wire because if a horse does reach through with a hoof and leg there is a likelihood of it suffering a worse injury, due to the barbs, than if the wire was smooth.
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post #7 of 16 Old 08-19-2013, 11:01 PM
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Is it fenced with steel 'tee posts'? If so, you can get long insulators that hold electric wire out 8 inches from the posts and barbed wire. This works very well for horses. While horses are less likely to get into a tight, new fence, it will do a lot more damage if they do.

I would mow or 'brush hog' it first so that you get nice new growth. I do not like pasturing horses on tall mature grass. They are very likely to eat short grass close to the ground and that makes them prone to getting grass seed or other tall growth in their eyes. I have treated a lot of eyes on horses that were turned into tall over-grown grass and weeds.
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post #8 of 16 Old 08-19-2013, 11:20 PM
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I am not a worrier about well-maintained and designed barbed wire fences. Maybe not what I would choose to put up if I was putting up new, but in most places I know of it's pretty much that or nothing (IME in WA and TX anyway). Stringing electric around the top and/or bottom might be another good safety precaution if you're still concerned.

I would brush hog the old standing hay just so that she doesn't eat down and kill whatever soft stuff is easiest to get to once you start irrigating and create a patchy pasture. In OR, depending on temps, water, and where you are, 2.5 acres may well be enough for one horse. Down in TX, where I was, you'd need 5 or more. It all depends- no one size fits all there.

I would definitely use tape and/or whatever else you like and subdivide the pasture, otherwise, over time she will likely eat down and kill the desirable species and leave the weeds and junk if the pasture is at all iffy. A small sacrifice area for times when she'd damage the pasture significantly by being out there (just rained/irrigated/soft, overgrazed, etc) might be worth thinking about and helps with long term management.
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post #9 of 16 Old 08-19-2013, 11:49 PM Thread Starter
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Boots: good point on the leg thing, didn't think of that one. She's not one to mess with fences so hopefully it doesn't become an issue. I will also be sectioning it off into at least 2 sections.

Cherie: yes its t-posts. I can't believe I didn't think of the electric tape. She respects the tape really well so I wouldn't even need to hook it up. Also very good point on barb wire too. I think of that type incident when I see smooth wire. My dad's old mare somehow got caught in a smooth wire fence. It cuts like a razor. And excellent point about the grass. Totally makes sense to cut it down for that reason. I was thinking about how bad the seeds and such would be in her super thick double mane and ground length tail but eyes and ears are much worse. Can't believe I didn't consider that lol

Sharpie: I'm from NM, CA, and now OR. I see lots of barb wire. I live in mostly cattle areas so pastures are fenced for them and horses go to pasture with the cows. I also didn't have a say in what fencing went up. One of my neighbors is being kind enough to let me use her pasture since they didn't rent it out this year. Normally it has 3-5 cow/calf pairs on it so its fenced for big dumb Angus cows lol
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post #10 of 16 Old 08-20-2013, 01:22 AM
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Google the words, 'horse barbed wire' and then tell me if it's not an issue. Just because it hasn't been an issue, doesn't mean it won't be. You can wire and electrify cheaply enough. Please cap your t posts, if you do this.

Your pasture does need to be cut.
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