Handling Horses on a Small Acreage

Not every horse owner has acres of land for their equine companion to graze and exercise on. There are easy ways to make the most of the space you do have.

While keeping your horse on a small property is a little harder than if you have acres of land, it’s not impossible. So, if you do only have an acre or two on which to house your quick-footed friend you’ll want to make the most of the space available to keep them happy and healthy.

1. Keep mud to a minimum

While this may be easier said than done, keeping mud to a minimum is critical. That’s because it can become a breeding ground for bacteria and lead to infections. If your paddock is prone to becoming sodden, consider laying down a layer of bark or woodchips to create a mud-free (fenced off) area for them to hang out in while you wait for the water to recede.

And try to keep your horse from churning up your fields as much as possible. Once a paddock is churned into mud grass regrowth becomes harder, as the ground compacts when it dries.

2. Supplementary feeding

For horses on a smaller lot, you’ll likely have to invest in supplementary feeding – especially in the winter months when the ground becomes muddy and grass becomes scarce. To make the most of the grass you do have, and reduce your feeding costs, fence off sections into smaller paddocks and move your horse between them when the grass is getting short.

But don’t wait until the grass is almost gone. Moving your horse when there’s about 7.5cm of grass left gives it the best chance of quick and healthy regrowth.

3. Manage the manure

Horses don’t like to eat around their own manure, so if you leave it lying around, you’ll inadvertently reduce your horse’s grazing area even further and increase the chance of worm and other parasitic infestations.

So, regularly remove manure from your horse’s paddocks. You can then either compost it and put it on your garden or see if any of your neighbours would like it. Also make sure to keep on top of your worming schedule and switch out the product you use once in a while to minimise re-infection.

4. Take time for exercise

Limited space can also mean limited opportunity for your horse to move about and let off some steam. For horses, it’s also important for their overall health that they’re given the opportunity to stretch their legs.

If you don’t have the time to exercise them every day consider building a ‘track’ around the perimeter of your paddocks and place their food and water at various points along the track to encourage extra movement. If this isn’t feasible, spreading feed across their paddock will also encourage them to move about to get their food.

While the dream is to have acres of rolling pasture for your horse to explore, don’t despair if this is out of reach. With a little bit of Kiwi ingenuity and planning, keeping your horse on a smaller property won’t be a problem.