Our rough itinerary for the next year or so…

Feb 2017 to May 2017

Stuart - Australia

Jane - UK, then Aus

June 2017 to Oct 2017

Stuart and Jane - UK

Oct 2017 to Dec 2017

Stuart - Australia + New Zealand

Jane - UK, then Aus, then NZ

The Workshops and Clinics page of this website is a good place to find out what we are doing and when.

Join us on Facebook so that you are kept up to date with developments.

You can access a full list of our Facebook pages on the contact us page.

Learn how to improve your balance so that you feel more secure when riding. This book is the second in this series and it shows you how to increase your balance. It contains 18 lessons for you to follow in your own time.

Begin reading this book for free now!

click here

Reviews

What a simple way to improve balance, I now teach this method to all of my students, from beginners to advanced. Fiona, Toronto, Canada

I am now much closer to achieving a truly ‘independent seat’. Feeling secure and confident. Bring on the next book! Megan, Cambridge, UK

This book is very easy to follow and has saved me money. My own instructor is great but she does not cover these fundamental basics. Thank you Jane for making it so easy to improve my riding, Jan. Kent, UK

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© Equiculture and Horse Rider’s Mechanic 2000 - 2016

This is a large website - make sure you check out the site map below to make sure you have not missed anything!

Our books have lots of information about sustainable horsekeeping practices:

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Horse keeping has changed dramatically in the last 30 to 40 years and there are many new challenges facing contemporary horse owners. The modern domestic horse is now much more likely to be kept for leisure purposes than for work and this can have huge implications on the health and well-being of our horses and create heavy demands on our time and resources.

You can begin reading this book (for free!) right here on this website…

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In an ideal world, most horse owners would like to have healthy nutritious pastures on which to graze their horses all year round. Unfortunately, the reality for many horse owners is far from ideal. However, armed with a little knowledge it is usually possible to make a few simple changes in your management system to create an environment which produces healthy, horse friendly pasture, which in turn leads to healthy ‘happy’ horses.

You can begin reading this book (for free!) right here on this website…

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It does not matter if you are buying an established horse property, starting with a blank canvas or modifying a property you already own; a little forward planning can ensure that your dream becomes your property. Good design leads to better living and working spaces and it is therefore very important that we look at our property as a whole with a view to creating a design that will work for our chosen lifestyle, our chosen horse pursuit, keep our horses healthy and happy, enhance the environment and to be pleasing to the eye, all at the same time.

You can begin reading this book (for free!) right here on this website…

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See our bookshop for some great deals where you can combine books and save lots!


Why not have a look at our other website:

www.horseridersmechanic.com

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Buying a horse property might be one of the most expensive purchases you ever make - so it is vital that you get it right. This book will guide you through the process, wherever you live in the world.

Begin reading this book for free now!

click here

Reviews

I wish this book had been out when I bought my first horse property, it would have saved me a lot of anguish. I love the check list and I am using it as we look for our next property. Vicky, Texas, USA

This book has brought up so many points that I just would not have thought about if I had not read it. Thanks a million! Bob, Nottingham, UK

So many great pictures and such a straightforward way of explaining how to work out what is important, and what is not. Kirsty, Geelong, Australia

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The authors and publishers of the Equiculture and Horse Rider’s Mechanic websites, social media pages, books and other resources shall have neither liability nor responsibility to any person or entity with respect to any loss, damage or injury caused or alleged to be caused directly or indirectly by the information contained in or on them. While the information is as accurate as the authors and publisher can make it, there may be errors, omissions and inaccuracies.

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Horses and pasture

This page is an article about horses and pasture. We also have a page that has various useful links about grasses/pasture plants and land management - Grass/pasture information links…→

You can read the article starting below or go straight to the sections that interest you by following the links↓

Horse owners as ‘grass farmers’…↓

Health Issues that result from poor pasture management…↓

Conservation/sustainable grazing using equines…↓

Want to learn more?…↓

Recommended reading…↓


Millions of years of evolution have created a symbiotic relationship between equines (and other grazing animals) and grasslands. Our aim as horse owners and as custodians of the land should be to replicate that relationship on our property as closely as possible. By managing our land effectively we can ensure that the environment and our horses achieve optimum health.

Millions of years of evolution have created a symbiotic relationship between equines (and other grazing animals) and grasslands.

In an ideal world most horse owners would like to have healthy nutritious pastures on which to graze their horses all year round. Unfortunately the reality for many horse owners is far from ideal. However it is possible to improve and maintain your pastures to an optimum level with a little applied knowledge.

Good pasture management requires an understanding of equine grazing behaviour combined with an understanding of grazing systems. This information can then be applied taking into account the needs of you, your horses and the pasture that you have available to you. These subjects are covered in other articles.

Horse owners as ‘grass farmers’

Horse owners need to think of themselves as ‘grass farmers’ even though the types of grass that they farm is (or should be) very different to those of cattle and sheep farmers. Horse owners require pastures that are rich in diversity (have many species) and contain predominantly grasses that are resilient and most importantly are low in sugar.

Much of what is written in books and articles about pasture grasses applies to cattle and to a lesser extent sheep. Domestic cattle have very different needs to horses therefore to sow grasses that have been developed for cattle can be very dangerous for horses.

This is because grasses for cattle are usually very high in sugar. Remember farmers need their (beef) cattle to gain weight quickly (so that they can be sold/butchered as soon as possible) or produce gallons of milk every day (in the case of dairy cattle), neither of which function is required by horse owners for their horses.

Other potential problems with pasture grasses that have been developed for cattle are high oxalate levels (which can lead to calcium deficiency and then ‘big head’) or dangerous endophytes (which leads to conditions such as ‘staggers’ and can affect cattle and sheep too).

Pastures for horses must provide relatively safe grasses that can be grazed with minimal problems, but deciding which grasses to sow for horse pastures is not easy. As well as avoiding pastures that can lead to ‘big head’ or ‘staggers’ you need to avoid the risks associated with obesity which puts the horse in a higher risk category for laminitis/founder (an extremely debilitating condition). Older insulin-resistant and Cushing’s Syndrome horses can be particularly at risk on certain grasses.

Deciding which grasses to sow  for horse pastures is not easy.

Even information written specifically about pasture for horses can be inaccurate and often assumes that the horses are either working very hard (much of the information comes from a time when horses worked very hard for a living) or are breeding/growing. The information rarely (if ever) takes into account mature horses that are either in light work or are not in work at all. These horses make up a large percentage of the horse industry and it is these horses that often fall prey to conditions such as laminitis/founder.

To compound these misunderstandings and common beliefs, many horse owners do not have a land management background. Horse owners often start life in the city or suburbia and then move to acreage because of their interest in horses. It is even quite common for experienced and professional horse people to have no real understanding of land care. Horse owners tend to be highly focused on their horses but the pasture side of horse management is often put in the 'too hard' basket. Degraded pasture is frequently believed to be an unfortunate but inevitable consequence of domestic horsekeeping.

This creates a reputation for horse owners of being poor land managers. It is very common to see examples of poor land management in semi rural and rural areas. Common sights are pastures with areas of bare compacted soil, erosion, mud and dust, weeds and rank grass.


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In an ideal world, most horse owners would like to have healthy nutritious pastures on which to graze their horses all year round. Unfortunately, the reality for many horse owners is far from ideal. However, armed with a little knowledge it is usually possible to make a few simple changes in your management system to create an environment which produces healthy, horse friendly pasture, which in turn leads to healthy ‘happy’ horses.

You can begin reading this book (for free!) right here on this website…

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Health Issues that result from poor pasture management

This poor land management leads to health issues in horses as well as creating problems for the environment. Mud and dust in particular cause skin problems (greasy heel etc.) and respiratory problems in horses.

Other health issues that can result from poor pasture management besides laminitis/founder are colic, obesity or loss of condition. An increase in horse intestinal parasites (‘worms’) are also a consequence of poor pasture management. Badly managed pasture is an eyesore to all and creates degradation to the environment through contaminated run off, soil loss, loss of habitat for wildlife and water pollution.

The most common mistake carried out by horse owners is overgrazing. This occurs for several reasons including:-

We now know that short grass has a higher sugar content (per mouthful) and because horses are able to eat very short grass (and in fact seek it out) keeping them on short grass does not really restrict their intake.

Also once the grass gets too short it becomes more stressed and is unable to effectively photosynthesise and eventually dies out. One this happens the land quickly begins to degrade. Another consequence of overgrazing is that the pasture becomes a monoculture and only the species that are able to cope with high intensity grazing survive - along with hardy weeds that the horse will not normally eat.

The first step to becoming a successful ‘grass farmer’ is to ‘hold your horses’ and let the grass get in front of them. This is the opposite of what most horse owners do when they overgraze their pastures and expect the grass to be able to cope and catch up. The simplest way to achieve this is to ‘rotationally graze’ your pasture, this, combined with a few other simple steps will ensure that your horses, the land and the environment all benefit, a true win-win situation.

Conservation/sustainable grazing using equines

UK - See the following link for a whole (GAP) newsletter edition about about using ponies for conservation grazing in the UK www.grazingadvicepartnership.org.uk

USA - A couple of links to articles about using grazing horses to create new soil and pasture Horse hooves stimulate desirable vegetation and Improving a small acreage with three horses.  

UK - The Wicken Fen Conservation Grazing Project using Konik Ponies and Highland Cattle by Carol Laidlaw the conservation grazing warden.

Here are some photos from our visit…↓

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Want to learn more?

If you want to learn more about this subject and much more why not come to our one day talk ↓

Healthy Land, Healthy Pasture Healthy Horses talk…→

These talks take place mainly in Australia and the UK but we occasionally get to other countries too so keep in touch!


You can follow us on Facebook without actually having to go on Facebook!  We post all sorts of information relevant to this subject on a regular basis↓

Live feed from the Equiculture Facebook page…→


For more information about Sustainable Horsekeeping have a look at  Our Bookshop…→

Our books are available as printed paperback books and as PDF downloads. Our books are also available on Amazon and some are also available as Kindle ebooks. You can read a substantial amount of each of our books for free in the bookshop so why not have a look!

We have a book on the subject of horses and pasture: Healthy Land, Healthy Pasture, Healthy Horses


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In an ideal world, most horse owners would like to have healthy nutritious pastures on which to graze their horses all year round. Unfortunately, the reality for many horse owners is far from ideal. However, armed with a little knowledge it is usually possible to make a few simple changes in your management system to create an environment which produces healthy, horse friendly pasture, which in turn leads to healthy ‘happy’ horses.

You can begin reading this book (for free!) right here on this website…

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Other recommended reading

UK - Managing Grass for Horses: The Responsible Owner's Guide (2005) Elizabeth O'Beirne Ranelagh, J.A.Allen & Co Ltd. An excellent book.

UK -  The Pony Club Guide to Pasture Management (2010) Elizabeth O'Beirne Ranelagh, J.A.Allen & Co Ltd. Another excellent book by the same author as above. A new and refreshing approach to this important subject. Topics covered include: equine digestive system; nutritional needs; grass types and their suitability; management practices; laminitis; obesity; poisonous plants; worms; grass sickness, and the poaching of ground in wet weather conditions. Fully illustrated with photographs and line drawings.


Hi there, we now have a brand new website - can you please go to www.equiculture.net - where you will receive - COMPLETELY FREE the 3 part  (¾ hour) video series called Horse Grazing Characteristics.