An over grazed field or “horse-sick” field will have a rather patchy appearance and evidence of rampant weed growth, possibly with parched, bare soil in places with no grass growth at all.
The former are likely the places where you find the majority of horse droppings. If the grazing on the rest of the field is sparse, your horse will graze closer and closer to the weeds which are likely infested with parasites.
Other parts of your field might be devoid of grass completely – perhaps where the horse shelters under trees or the area around the gate. In wet weather this can become extremely boggy which makes getting horses in and out tricky at the best of times while providing much hilarity to any observers!
If large segments of your pasture are in a poor state this will have a negative affect on the health of the horses and ponies using it. The more dominant horses grazed on this type of pasture will muscle in on the weaker herd.
You may find that weight loss is inevitable unless the grazing is supplemented by hay or haylage.
How Can It Be Prevented?
The over grazing of pasture is often the cause of poor pasture health. The BHS recommend that each horse should have 2/3 – 1 acre each. Even at these densities pasture will still become “Horse Sick” if the following management practices are not undertaken.
1. Pick the droppings from the field at least every week, but preferably daily.
2. Keep your horses wormed and vaccinated.
3. Ensure that the land is free draining; if water logging regularly occurs then consider mole draining. If the land is low lying it may not be suitable for horses.
4. Divide the land up into 3 or 4 paddocks so that you can turn out in 1 paddock while resting, working on or grazing complimentary animals in the other paddocks.
5. Follow an annual regime of pasture care. In addition, if you have got native breeds like Shetlands, which are particularly susceptible to laminitis or colic then small turnout areas will need to be fenced off to prevent over grazing.
I will shortly be posting an article on maintaining paddocks detailing what you need to do to prepare your paddocks before your horses even go on the land, right through to the yearly routines it is best to follow to ensure good quality grazing .
But for now if you would like to read how much pasture your horses may need click https://primestables.co.uk/blog/how-do-i-decide-how-much-pasture-and-grazing-is-required-for-horses
The Stable Doctor
Advice is given without legal responsibility
Research: Total Horse Expert