We run a small horse boarding farm that has proven to be a lot of work but a great payoff. We have met some great friends and learned a lot along the way. I have been involved with horses for the past 25 years and even started a farm sitting business when in college. Having my horses at home has been fun, but more work than riding!
People think that the big grazers are cattle, but a horse is the TRUE hay burner. They will eat more than any animal I have met. Our farm has a unique structure. We have 2 small herds of horses that we rotate between pastures. Each herd has 2 pastures. They eat on 1 pasture for a week and then we rotate to the other. This helps keep worm loads down and grass levels up. Our pastures rarely are eaten down. We do mow to keep the weeds down. Horses are finicky and prefer limited forages.
The biggest problem that we have is spring grass introduction. Some horses can handle immediate forage for 24 hours, but we limit them for many reasons. Overload of spring grass can cause grass founder and colic and other issues. We have “dry lots” that contain little to no grass that they stay in once the snow has melted, letting our pastures rest and grow. Once the grass is a few inches tall we start at 1 hour per day and increase in 1/2 to hourly increments per day. During this period, we are checking to be sure we do not see evidence of overeating. Loose stool is a common indicator of overeating!
Here is a picture of “Breezy” in our pasture during our first turnout on spring grass. They are always so happy to get out in the pasture for the first time and act like a kid in a candy store.
Later in the spring our grass grows FAST! So fast they bury their heads in the grass.
Fall is a time to load up for winter. We had a pretty morning last fall and I had to run out and take some pictures.