Grazing for horses offers the most natural environment to ensure a contented horse, all other aspects being considered. But, as with everything in life, there is grazing and then there is grazing. What offers the best pasture grass for horses?
Without a doubt, a stabled or confined horse is less content than one who is outside grazing. Horses evolved to wander around, grazing. When they are not able to do this they can become anxious or bored. Both make the horse less healthy and provides us humans with more to concern ourselves with.
A stabled horse also needs to be exercised daily, however you feel, whatever the weather. A grazing horse exercises himself.
So what is the best pasture grass for horses and how should it be managed, if at all? In a recent post, the types of pasture grasses was discussed. So this article is about managing the pasture.
In recent weeks (June 2012), there have been some reports of cattle dropping down dead in Texas. It seems that they all died as a result of cyanide poisoning. So where is this gas coming from?
First, GM grass was suspected, but the grass where these cattle died has been there for around 15 years, long before GM grasses.
By no means were all the cattle on the ranch affected, which is odd in itself. But what did eventually transpire is that the areas where the cattle died had been recently sprayed with pesticide.
Cyanide is widely used in pesticides as well as fertilisers. It usually comes as a cyanide salt, such as sodium cyanide or hydrogen cyanide, but can be disguised simply as ‘nitrogen’. Once it is sprayed onto the pasture, the plants take it up. Part of the metabolic process in the absorption of any product is to release those parts not required, if possible.
Cyanide gas is not an uncommon feature after the pastures have been sprayed. If there is enough being released, then the grazing animal can’t avoid breathing it in. As most people know, cyanide is a strong poison.
It is not unusual for pregnant mares to abort their foals, after they have been put on recently sprayed pasture.
So what can you do?
To provide the best grazing for horses, to protect your precious charges, it is better to use natural pasture management methods rather than to rely on the chemical ones which may kill your horses and will have a detrimental effect on the surrounding environment.
Firstly, you need to work out the best horse to acreage ratio so you don’t overgraze the pasture. Planting local grasses that are better suited to the conditions of your area, as well as for their suitability for horses can provide the easiest solution.
Planting trees on any higher ground will automatically and naturally fertilise the lower and surrounding areas. By allowing a variety of weeds to grow, they will also provide natural fertility. Weeds tend to have longer roots than grass, so pull up minerals the grasses can’t reach. As horses tend not to eat the weeds, they break down at the end of the season, providing a mulch and releasing the minerals for the grasses next season.
Perfect solution and you haven’t lifted a finger!
By allowing nature to fertilise your pasture grazing for horses, or any other animal, you are providing the best and most nutritious grass, without any dangers to their health.