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Old 01-28-2013, 09:34 AM  
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How large of paddock/pasture?

We will be moving Ruby to our home in the spring. She is currently being boarded and has a paddock that's about a quarter of an acre in size.

I'm looking for insight as to what might be a good size area to fence in for her. I don't want it too small (definitely bigger than she has now) but am unsure if HUGE is going to be of any added benefit to her.

Curious for those of you who keep your horses at home what is the size of their space? We're planning to build a lean-to to put inside the space for this year and hopefully a small barn for next but more for hay and tack storage than stalling (that'll be adjacent to the space, not in it). The fenced in area with lean-to will be the bulk of her space. I'd also like to add one more smaller horse for companionship sake so she isn't alone.


We are completely green to sizing and have much to learn about materials (we were initially thinking wooden posts with the white electric tape lining the top but have recently looked more into wood). Any insight anyone might have on any of that would be much appreciated!
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Old 01-28-2013, 09:44 AM  
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How much land do you have?? We have three horses on about 4 acres right now and they have a lean to under the barn that was built on the hill above it. We try to keep them in a big enough space because they wont mudd up the feild except were we hay and water them.
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Old 01-28-2013, 10:08 AM  
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We have 48 acres, although some chunks of it are in CRP programs and we'd prefer not to buy them out if we don't have to. I could easily set up 4 acres off the back yard. Is that enough to run around and graze? I could go larger but don't want to if I don't need to for expense and maintenance sake.

As far as mud issues go if I have the option of setting up on flat ground or on a slight/moderate hill will the slight hill be better? My husband suggested the slight hill but initially I didn't like that for footing sake or hoof health (even though I have no idea if that would have an impact at all, I just assumed flat would be better not considering drainage so thank you for mentioning that).

Perhaps another silly question, but we have ridiculous gopher problems...both striped and pocket. They make both small holes and large mounds...anyone have much success with eradicating such pets in a pasture type area?
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Old 01-28-2013, 10:25 AM  
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My mare was on 4 acres by herself for years and never had to be hayed in the summer cause there was enough grass.

As long as you have shade for her four acres would be perfect for her. Grazing during the summer that would keep her maintained and enough room to move around and be a horse. Flat with a lil hill wouldn't hurt her none as long as she not being watered on the hill or fed on the slope. and you wouldn't have to worry abou alot of muddied ground during the winter while feeding hay like you get with smaller spaces.

When you don't have to hay during the summer you save alot of money and boarding fee's lol. hope that helps
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Old 01-28-2013, 10:28 AM  
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We never had those kind of pest problems, if your worry about hurting them to get rid of them have a perfessional come out, you don't want your horses feet to get stuck in a hole during play time. We'd get rid of moles by flooding there holes. but thats just us our here. Its up to you how you want to get rid of them.
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Old 01-28-2013, 03:59 PM  
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If you have a Jack Russel terrier, you won't have a gopher problem for long!
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Old 01-28-2013, 06:28 PM  
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If you have a Jack Russel terrier, you won't have a gopher problem for long!
HA!!! I have four dogs, three of which are completely uninterested in pest control, one (a miniature pinscher) is effective but can only do so much. Our two cats, one clawed and one not make a dent too, but they're not nearly as efficient as our little spitfire Fynnigan

After nearly ruining our riding lawnmower hitting some of the bigger holes and having our huge garden get completely annihilated in seed stage we began flooding holes. When that proved completely ineffective we tried traps. That took care of quite a few but they eventually wised up and learned to avoid them. We then started picking off the striped gophers with our bows during practice, or letting our son pick them off with his bb gun, but even keeping them out of just the yard was a monumental task last summer. Those suckers proliferate at a rate I've never seen before. It was nothing to take two or three a night for several weeks, seem like they were gone, only to have them pop back up all over the place again.

I think some consulting some sort of exterminator might be in order. Everyone within about 20 mile radius of us had similar problems the last couple of years. It was INSANE and I'm not looking forward to trying to deal with the problem once we get my horse (or horses) set up here.
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Old 01-29-2013, 06:57 AM  
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Four acres sounds great for just one horse. A lot will depend on how much you plan to depend on grass for feed value, as opposed to just a little bit to munch on to keep her busy. I'd fence in as much as you can comfortably afford, but subdivide it so you can do some pasture rotation. I'm really liking my current setup, I have a small drylot (could be bigger) with a shedrow roof providing shelter. The shed has my feed and tack room, hay storage, plus equipment storage. From there, with the help of a few roundpen panels, I can open up a gate and they have access to 3 different pastures, so I can let some of the land "rest" and grass regrow. I have one field that they end up spending most of the winter on (3 horses, ~3 acres), so it's really eaten down by the time one of the other pastures is ready for them to graze in the spring. I've got enough options that it can then rest for a few months, then they can graze it again while the one they've been on gets a break. Having the drylot enables me to keep the horses off the pasture for either all day (summertime) or night (wintertime). That keeps some of the extra weight off the horses!

As far as slope vs. level, a lot depends on the drainage. Level can be great, unless it's at the bottom of the slope, making water collect there and turn it muddy after a rain. On slopes, horses can wear paths that turn into watercourses in the rain and make gullies if erosion is bad. I have no choice, pretty much all of my property slopes! Generally, the larger the area you have, the less wear and tear will show. There will be favorite spots that will get overgrazed or trampled, but as long as you have drainage taken care of in important, high traffic areas (gates, feeding areas), you'll be fine.

As far as fencing type is concerned, I like having really solid fencing for the perimeter and any small confinement areas (like a dry lot). For me, that's wood or horse-grade woven wire fence, both of which can be reinforced with a strand of electric wire or tape if you're really worried about escape artists. I am a fan of electric tape for subdividing fields, temporary fence, or making laneways to get from one field to another. My horses have always really respected it, but I don't use it for separating groups of horses (i.e. having horses on both sides of the fence), and don't trust it enough to use it for perimeter fencing. Have fun setting up your place!

Oh, forgot to add, regarding your pests, many moons ago when I worked on a dairy farm they used "woodchuck bombs" to control those burrowing creatures. Basically they were small cardboard canisters that you'd put a fuse in, light it, then drop it into the hole, seal the hole (and any other exits nearby) and it would release a gas that would kill any woodchucks in the den. I don't know if such things still exist or are legal, but they might be worth asking about.

Last edited by sfl89 : 01-29-2013 at 07:06 AM.
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Old 01-29-2013, 08:08 AM  
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sfl - that's such great insight!

I would love to give her more opportunities to graze and save money on hay so the idea of subdividing the space up so sections have grow time off really makes sense.

I would love to do all wood along with the horse grade wire as far as fencing goes too. I'm not sure since we're starting all this from scratch that that'll be in the budget but it'll definitely be the ultimate goal. I run a licensed daycare out of my home. My main concern wouldn't be in regards to her getting out, but rather little people getting in. Not on my watch but to and from the car most of my parents have little to not control of their kids and I've had to step in many times when their own parents couldn't safely escort or regain control of them

Something much like this:
http://statewidefence.net.c25.sitepr...g/36307658.jpg
or this
http://www.fencesgates.co.uk/wp-cont...-Fencing11.jpg

At least along the one side facing the house, seems like it would be my best bet for liability purposes.

On the flat space I'm considering I think drainage must on some level be ok. We have quite a few trees planted there (we'd have to transplant) and they've thrived. The soil here is very sandy and doesn't hold moisture terribly well. We have three ponds all clustered together and although the natural slope of the property can't be felt it's obvious that's where it much of the property's water drains to. We didn't get hardly any rain last year and they completely dried up, so I know they depend on that run off to sustain.

I was looking at the sloped space again this morning and I do think it's too sloped. I likely won't have a round pen for some time so I'm hoping to use the space for lunging and such too. On a hill that steep I think it could become far too precarious to try to get her to do such a thing there lol
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Old 01-29-2013, 02:57 PM  
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What I would do is have a smaller pen that contains the shelter, waterer, feeder and such, and have that open into the larger pasture, that ideally could be divided in two for rotation (to let the grass grow, or if you decide to fertilize the grass, or "deal" with the gophers.

the smaller pen will come in handy if she needs to be kept less mobile, and for holding her close when awaiting the vet or farrier.

Good luck with the gophers...we have pocket gophers that we don't worry about; the horses can see the mounds, and their holes are too small to be a worry. The dog and cats enjoy the sport. not sure about the striped gophers though. Our neighbours have prarie dogs which leave big holes (not sure why they don't cross the fence line...), and they tried using gas, but always missed plugging a hole, so the PDs would poke their head up and laugh at them....
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Old 01-29-2013, 03:20 PM  
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I wish I had that kind of land to set up for my horses!! Heck I'd even get a few cows as a little extra money makers But I agree, if you have that much create two pastures so that you can rotate. SFL89 has a great way of dividing with electric tape, but I know that if you don't have a source of electricity near or the money for a solar charger that could be a pain. Although it could be the easiest and potentially cheapest way and you could move it if you needed to.

My Aunt liked to trap Gophers, I found a great video on youtube an they have a link at the bottom to the website where they get the traps. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Epe4DXA1yow They caught 40 gophers overnight!! But it is also their business, some state conservancies will pay for the tails of gophers as well . . . I don't know if I would like to remove the tails for or not LOL! My in-laws have a bunch of gophers and he said the traps worked well till the neighbors dog ran off with it LOL, they also said that when they had a few cats around gophers weren't as big of a problem. SO you could do both if you wanted.

Good luck
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Old 01-29-2013, 07:34 PM  
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I agree that 4 acres for one horse should be more than adequate. My suggestion would be to subdivide into at least 4 areas. I read an article many years ago that said alot of parasites have 3 week cycles. So by rotating once a week (so the horse is on any given pasture for one week out of 4.) you break the cycle of some parasites. I have my pastures divided like this. Then my connecting lane is my dry lot, as well as a smaller area around the barn/run in. I do not let my horses onto the pasture areas at all in the winter, but they can stretch their legs in the lanes. I also limit pasture time in the summer to keep their weight under control, as I have easy keepers. It has been a great system here for almost 20 years. I have never had to replant. I also get the pastures mown once a year, usually in July. They are just now getting weedy enough that I probably need to till them up and replant.
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Old 01-30-2013, 06:44 AM  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EquineAlberta View Post
What I would do is have a smaller pen that contains the shelter, waterer, feeder and such, and have that open into the larger pasture, that ideally could be divided in two for rotation (to let the grass grow, or if you decide to fertilize the grass, or "deal" with the gophers.

the smaller pen will come in handy if she needs to be kept less mobile, and for holding her close when awaiting the vet or farrier.

Good luck with the gophers...we have pocket gophers that we don't worry about; the horses can see the mounds, and their holes are too small to be a worry. The dog and cats enjoy the sport. not sure about the striped gophers though. Our neighbours have prarie dogs which leave big holes (not sure why they don't cross the fence line...), and they tried using gas, but always missed plugging a hole, so the PDs would poke their head up and laugh at them....
Although she stands great for the vet and farrier I do really like the idea of having a smaller pen for the shelter, feeding and whatnot. Very good idea.

Our pocket gophers leave the mounds, but when it rains they sometimes leave GIANT holes.

The striped gophers holes start out small but like, the more frequently used holes by their actual dens end up has pretty decent sized dented holes. The entrances can easily end up the size of a horse hoof in diameter or bigger.
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Old 01-30-2013, 06:54 AM  
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I wish I had that kind of land to set up for my horses!! Heck I'd even get a few cows as a little extra money makers But I agree, if you have that much create two pastures so that you can rotate. SFL89 has a great way of dividing with electric tape, but I know that if you don't have a source of electricity near or the money for a solar charger that could be a pain. Although it could be the easiest and potentially cheapest way and you could move it if you needed to.

My Aunt liked to trap Gophers, I found a great video on youtube an they have a link at the bottom to the website where they get the traps. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Epe4DXA1yow They caught 40 gophers overnight!! But it is also their business, some state conservancies will pay for the tails of gophers as well . . . I don't know if I would like to remove the tails for or not LOL! My in-laws have a bunch of gophers and he said the traps worked well till the neighbors dog ran off with it LOL, they also said that when they had a few cats around gophers weren't as big of a problem. SO you could do both if you wanted.

Good luck
The husband would LOVE to have some cattle....I however am a softy not having grown up on farms. Hunting is my other hobby besides horses, but to have something in my backyard that I have to see and feed everyday before sending it off to end up in the freezer? Without a doubt they'd all end up with names and I could see me fighting with him to take them off when it was "time" lol


Hubby is a master electrician (perk!) and I'm sure he'll be able to sort something out for me. I want the space not far off from the backyard, I'd say maybe 150' from the house so not too bad. Wouldn't be too hard for him to lay line and get me hooked up. The idea of a solar charger though intrigues me, I've never heard of such a thing and am definitely going to look into that. Thanks!
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Old 01-30-2013, 06:57 AM  
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I agree that 4 acres for one horse should be more than adequate. My suggestion would be to subdivide into at least 4 areas. I read an article many years ago that said alot of parasites have 3 week cycles. So by rotating once a week (so the horse is on any given pasture for one week out of 4.) you break the cycle of some parasites. I have my pastures divided like this. Then my connecting lane is my dry lot, as well as a smaller area around the barn/run in. I do not let my horses onto the pasture areas at all in the winter, but they can stretch their legs in the lanes. I also limit pasture time in the summer to keep their weight under control, as I have easy keepers. It has been a great system here for almost 20 years. I have never had to replant. I also get the pastures mown once a year, usually in July. They are just now getting weedy enough that I probably need to till them up and replant.
Now this has got me wondering since I'm completely green to keeping my own horse, is there a reason for that or is it just personal preference?

My boarders still send Ruby out a couple of times a week into a big pasture so she can run around with others....I'm wondering now if that's not such a good idea?
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Old 01-30-2013, 07:55 AM  
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Letting them out on pasture in the winter is usually determined by how much damage you can tolerate on the pasture due to hooves. It varies a LOT depending on what part of the country you live in. I know some folks in the Northwest have posted that it's just too darned wet for much turnout at all in wintertime, never mind on pasture. I still want mine to get the exercise and change of scenery, my drylot is very small so there's no way I'd keep them up all winter. Besides, I have WAAY more pasture than my 3 horses can possibly eat in the growing season, so the winter pasture can rest a good long time before it has to be used again. I realize I'm very fortunate in this; where I grew up (hilly, forested, rocky), pasture of ANY kind was a luxury, most people had dirt paddocks.
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Old 01-31-2013, 02:46 PM  
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Juicy Fruit gum...they'll eat it and it will stop them up and kill them. Unwrap the individual sticks, and place them at all the holes...you'll have to figure out how many you need by watching how many are around. You'll have to do it occasionally as they repopulate.

It's not very humane, and you should make sure it's legal in MN, but there's no chance of secondary poisoning like with traditional rodenticides...
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Old 02-01-2013, 11:06 AM  
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I think the small paddock - holding area of about 3/4 of an acre with a run in is good for winter and that leading with an 8 foot gate to a larger pasture for summer grazing,
that way the winter time there is nothing for them to forage on out there and you do not want your fields churned up with hooves and eating too much of the pasture grass before it matures.
i use equibraid electric the round one and on the corner real sturdy posts, it looks good, easy to install, and for the outer pasture i used high tensile wire. again easy on the pocket book, and lasts forever.
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Old 02-01-2013, 03:53 PM  
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Having a smaller drylot with shelter attached to various pastures that can be rotated is the way to go.

Have the hubby run electric, for sure, as you will need to plug in a stocktank heater in the winter, plus, having lights out there will be appreciated (if he can make it so you can turn the lights on and off at the house, even better!) and you will probably want to plug in things like clippers, a radio, etc. If you have the vet out, sometimes they need power for ultrasound machines, dental tools, etc, too.

When you lay it all out, a couple things to think about... You only have one horse now, but what if you want to get another some day? Build your dry lot and shelter with accommodating more horses in mind (adding on or dividing it) so it is easy to do if the time comes.

The drainage in your dry lot is way more important than the drainage in your pasture, as the grass will help hold the soil together, prevent erosion, and maintain the moisture balance. Plus, pastures are bigger than dry lots, so other than a few high traffic areas getting muddy, usually, the horses disperse their activities enough that they aren't standing in mud all day long.

In the drylot, the horse's hoofs will make little holes which will hold water and then they will churn it up into a big mud hole if it doesn't drain well. There are things you can do to help this if the ideal location has bad drainage, but it can be expensive.

I don't like drylots to be huge because I like them to be completely void of ANYTHING growing. If they are too big, you will have patches of really short grass (which is stressed, and really high in sugars because of the stress) and or weeds... weeds can be benign or very dangerous, and some horses will eat them out of boredom. A bigger drylot means more work keeping the weeds out. If you do have to modify the ground to help with drainage, the bigger drylot will also make that more expensive.

Something around 60 feet by 100 feet is plenty for one horse, especially if they spend a good amount of time in the actual pasture.

Another space/cost saving idea if you are an arena rider is to use an area for both a drylot and an arena. It does have its drawbacks as far as wear and tear on the arena footing, but is pretty workable in private, just a couple horse set up.

How big your pastures should be, and how many you should have for rotation really depends on your soil and climate. In most places, the grass grows like crazy in the spring, but then doesn't grow very much, if at all during the hot part of the summer unless you irrigate, and then grows again in the fall before dying for the winter. Your local extension office and other horse people that use rotational grazing in your area should be able to help you there, but using movable electric fences for dividing your pastures works well as you can adjust as needed.

Most horses will respect just a strand or two of highly visible electric rope or tape keeping them in just one section of the pasture with no problems as long as they have grass to eat. It is boredom that usually leads to escapes, and if the whole area is fenced with something more solid, and they do escape, they are just in another part of the pasture, and not running off somewhere dangerous.

Once the ground freezes and gets a layer of snow, the horses wont hurt the grass. It is the roots that you are concerned with, and if the ground is frozen, the roots are protected.

Killing gophers.. Its a full time job, but the trick is to get after them as soon as you see the first mound so they don't have time to populate. You might want to get an exterminator out in the spring to kill them all off (I have never used one, so I don't know how much it costs or if it is more effective than what you can do yourself), but I used the bombs. They are legal here... almost all their tunnels have multiple exits, so look for them and seal them before you set one off. In really extensive networks, get help, and try to get multiple bombs going in through multiple holes at the same time. Once you set them off, look for escaping smoke, drop another bomb in, and then seal that hole.

If you actually see one of the little bastards and can shoot em, DO IT!

Then keep a look out and deal with any new holes as soon as you find them.

They also make these sonic wave things that are suppose to keep them out of areas, and they do work, but not for a large enough area to work for a horse pasture. I have used them successfully in the yard/garden, though.

It helps if you can mow a section of pasture after you move your horses to the next so you can see whats going on with the ground, rather than have sections that are still really tall. The grass grows back better that way, too.

Setting up a facility is fun. Once you decide on what kind of shelter/storage system you will build, post it up so people can tell you what worked for them and what mistakes they made, and what they wish they would have done differently.
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Old 02-24-2013, 08:03 AM  
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My paddocks are 27 x 70. I have two horses in one and three in another.
They do have free access to the arena from the paddocks. The only time the gates to the arena are shut due to bad weather or feeding time.

I let mine out to pasture as long as the ground is frozen or dry (spring/summer/fall). But if it's thawing, I do not as I have limited pasture and have to watch it so it is not torn up.
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