Phil Busey Agronomy
Consulting Inc.


 

Horses

Equestrian paddocks are planted to bahiagrass, improved bermudagrass (e.g., 'Coastal'), or a mixture of grasses. Much of the horse's grazing nutrition comes from the soil. Periodic soil sampling helps guide fertilization, which affects forage yield, energy value, protein, mineral, and vitamin content.

For paddocks that are used primary as a clean place for exercise, soil fertility is also important because a properly fertilized paddock is more resistant to weeds and recuperates more quickly from divots. A horse's health can be affected by the evenness of the ground, so consistent fertilization, mowing, and plant management practices can reduce hazards.

One of the most important considerations in managing pastures for horses is to ensure that there are multiple paddocks, each providing no more than 3 weeks of grazing, which allows horses to be moved to other paddocks and allows recovery of grazed paddocks.

Botanical surveys are helpful in assessing grazing quality, and the presence or absence of poisonous plants, and determining whether special weed control procedures will be needed. Removal, either chemically or physically, of invasive species may be helpful to the health of horses and the suitability of recreation areas. Animals generally do not eat dangerous quantities poisonous plants unless they confined in areas where they are forced to eat poisonous plants. Therefore, minimization of stocking rate is beneficial. However, prevention and removal of poisonous plants is also a wise approach.