Make this the year you really get on top of your paddock, ensuring it provides the best quality grazing for your horse all year round. Follow our 5 tips for improving and maintaining a healthy pasture:
- Routine Maintenance – Keeping an eye on the state of your paddocks should be a daily duty. Ensuring you regularly poo pick fields and keep on top of weeds will help maintain the overall condition of the paddock. Plus doing it daily ensures that the job is small, manageable and can easily be tackled.
- Avoid overgrazing – overgrazing depletes grass growth and encourages the development of patchy areas of soil, where weeds will soon spring up. It’s not just horses eating grass that causes problems, plenty of damage is also caused by their hooves, urine and faeces. Resting is therefore essential to give the chance for it to rejuvenate. Rotating paddocks allows a paddock to rest whilst the other is in use and this can help prevent the pasture from becoming over-grazed.
- Harrow - Harrowing is a fantastic way to promote new grass growth for the spring and summer. It helps to pull out dead plant matter, allows air to circulate into the soil’s surface, encourages young growth and stimulates new root development. Harrowing can also help to even out ruts within the field, which are a potential trip hazard to the horse and could result in injury.
- Fertilise - Fertiliser helps to replace nutrients lost through grazing and is necessary to provide optimum conditions for the grass to grow. When fertilising horse pastures it is necessary to use a fertiliser specially formulated for use on horse paddocks, such as SureGrow. Non horse paddock specific fertilisers are too nitrogen rich and could result in flush spring grass commonly associated with laminitis in horses and ponies, so should not be used. The best time to fertilise is late spring-summer.
- Reseed – Re-seeding can be targeted within the paddock so that you are only re-seeding areas which have been particularly poached and therefore have limited grass growth. Common problem areas to watch out for, include fence lines, gateways and anywhere horses may congregate or stand (ie. the hay pile). As per fertilising, we recommend using a specially formulated grass seed mix for horse grazing. This ensures that the optimum balance of different grass species is utilised. Re-seeded areas should be kept horse free until the seed has taken. The best time for re-seeding is between April-September.