Spring is rapidly approaching and now is the time to begin considering how and when to turn out your horses from their long winter confinement. Here are some things to consider from our farm planner, Michael Hipp.
Rain gardens are a bright new idea for dealing with two frequent issues for horse properties: excess runoff and MUD! A rain garden can be a multi-purpose solution in helping to make both your place and the environment just a little bit cleaner.
Keeping a horse in the winter can be challenging. Even though our main issues in the winter here in western Washington are wind and rain, we can encounter the occasional problems with freezing temperatures and snow. Maintaining good horse care is a challenge here because we need to be prepared for just about anything. But by following some key Best Management Practices (BMPs) you can meet those challenges and not let them overcome your enjoyment of having a horse
The persistent smoke from fires affects not just people, but horses. Like us, horses are susceptible to eye, nose and throat irritations. If your eyes or throat are irritated, you can safely assume theirs are, too.
Owning a horse is a big responsibility and a commitment of time, energy, finances and resources. AND, it can be an extremely rewarding and exciting experience when it’s all done well. The following points outline basic requirements for owning and caring for an adult horse. You can use this checklist to review your current horse management program or to assist you in determining if you are ready to take on horse ownership. **Keep in mind that you should always consult your veterinarian on the health care program best for your horses or if you have problems or questions.**
One of the most important aspects of pasture management is the length of time you keep horses off the pasture. When horses are allowed year round access to pastures, grass plants can become overgrazed, making them dramatically less productive and allowing weeds to take over in their place. Grazing during the winter months is especially hard on pastures. When soils are wet they are easily compacted, suffocating the roots of grass plants and doing long-term damage to vital air and water channels in the soil. Consider adding a confinement area to your grazing system or farm.
A confinement area (or paddock) is an enclosure meant to be your horse’s outdoor living quarters when keeping them off pastures. Using a confinement area protects pastures from overgrazing and soil compaction, especially during winter months when grass plants are dormant and soils are saturated. Limiting time on pastures also helps manage the horse’s health and weight.
In horses, “fat” is not healthy. The high sugar and non-structural carbohydrate issues in hay and grass may explain why we are now seeing so many overweight horses with metabolic disorders and insulin resistance problems. The way we’ve been grazing horses and the types of pastures we’ve developed may be contributing to very serious horse health issues.