Horse property management
When you buy or lease land on which to keep your horses you generally do so to provide
an environment for them which is safe, provides room for movement and preferably
is able to provide them with pasture on which to graze. However you also have additional
responsibilities to manage that land so that it does not become degraded and cause
problems for the wider environment. The good news is that by responding to and meeting
this extra responsibility you provide benefits for yourself, your horses, your neighbours
and of course the land. This section of the website introduces you to some of the
knowledge that you need for good property management and all the benefits that that
brings. Make sure you put yourself on our free mailing list - subscribe -so that
you can be kept up to date with additions to the site.
Land that is dedicated to horse properties is on the increase. As larger farms are
subdivided into smaller lots many of them become small horse properties. Land care
issues are common, particularly on the urban fringe - the area that surrounds a city
or town - where there are many subdivisions. This is because even experienced horse
owners do not generally have as much land care knowledge as horse care knowledge.
As areas become more divided and developed there is less land available for wildlife,
and, there are problems with compacted soil, erosion and polluted water. Also, as
horses are not native to Australia or New Zealand, their considerable weight and
bulk in relation to small hooves and the fact that they will overgraze a paddock
if left to their own devices causes compaction on fragile soils. This means that
horses have a detrimental impact on the environment if they are not managed properly.
Caring for your property is equally as important as caring for your horses. This
is because a good, safe, clean and green property looks after your horses, the environment
and your investment all at the same time. Horses thrive much better in an environment
that is as close to natural as possible. For a horse, a natural lifestyle is to have
a large home range with access to grass and clean water and, importantly, as herd
animals, the companionship of other horses, shade and shelter.
Natural living equines (wild and feral) have access to very large tracts of land,
at least several square kilometres, and their normal behaviour reflects this. When
we keep horses in captivity they are generally restricted to paddocks that are quite
small (by horse standards). So we have to pro-actively manage equine behaviour otherwise
they will degrade the land.
Twenty first century horse management need not be detrimental to the environment
or the horse. Creating horse and property care systems that, once established, are
easy to manage in terms of time and expense - can not only enrich the lifestyle of
your horses but are less damaging and can enhance the environment.
A better managed property enables a broad variety of plants to flourish which supports
wildlife as well as domestic animals. This is called an ecosystem. The more diverse
the ecosystem the better it can cope with environmental disasters such as floods,
drought, pests and disease. For example, pasture that is grown for horses protects
the soil, trees that are grown for shelter or even fodder also provide habitat for
birds and other native animals. This promotes a more natural life style for horses
resulting in less stress for them and a better lifestyle for ourselves and our neighbours.
Good property care does not need to be expensive. In fact often a slight change in
operations can lead to big savings, for example improved, nutritious, hard wearing
pasture equals smaller feed bills. And, reduction in mud or dust will mean healthier
horses and fewer vet bills. Better manure management results in a liability becoming
Good property management integrated with good horse care will enrich the environment
and benefit your animals.
As a horse owner-carer and custodian of the land you will be interested in the following
- The wild, feral horse and its characteristics and behaviour
- Horse characteristics and behaviour at pasture
- Grazing and pasture management
- The benefits of pasture
- Soil management practices
- Horse care systems
- Property selection and design
- Horse facilities and fences
- Vegetation management
- Manure management
- Equipment and tools
These subjects and more will be covered by future articles, recommended reading and
informative links. Make sure you are on the free mailing list- subscribe so that
you are kept up to date with changes and additions to this site (via an email every
one to two months).
See also the further property support page and more property info page for more information
relevant to horse property