A comfortable, healthy horse will remain safely turned out for longer periods of time than animals who must constantly withstand bad conditions. However, good turnout conditions require a certain amount of maintenance to yield their full advantages.
Regular mowing and draining of surface and ground water to other locations can eliminate mosquito breeding environments. Removing manure and wasted feed from paddock areas is crucial for controlling bacteria proliferation, rodents, migratory birds, flies, and insects detrimental to your horse's health. Providing clean water, access to salt, and sanitary feeding conditions further contributes to good equine health and turnout management. Finally, regular inspections of fences and immediate correction of hazardous conditions provide you and your fellow horse lovers the peace of mind necessary for enjoying the equestrian life.
The main issues related to paddock management are life support, containment, shelter, moisture and erosion control, and pest control. The internet provides access to dozens of products that can help do-it-yourself farm owners maximize their paddock use, minimize maintenance, and reduce stable workload for most of the year.
Solar fence chargers help safely contain horses in turnout areas without the problems associated with traditional electrically powered devices. They can be connected to existing electric tape or wire without involving professional contractors, and operate efficiently in most climates. The following manufacturers provide a variety of solar powered products to suit most turnout situations:
166 Johnson Lane
Clinton, TN 37716
|Renewable Energy Supply and Design
Stevensville, MT 59870
|American Fence and Supply Company
3501 N. IH 35
Georgetown, TX 78628
Website: afence.com Life Support
To maintain healthy outdoor living, your horse must have fresh food, abundant clean water, and access to salt at all times -- the necessities of life. Although horses evolved as grazers, most experts agree that horses should be fed and watered in clean containers to limit pest invasion and ingestion of soil or sand. Reinforced plastic is a preferred base material for water troughs, feeders and storage containers because they are lightweight, durable, cleanable, and economical.
Plastic feeders are now designed to hook over fence rails to separate pasture mates during feeding and removed and cleaned when necessary. Water troughs should be drainable and inspected regularly for cleanliness, because stagnant water is an ideal environment for mosquito larvae, algae, and bacteria. The following companies feature reinforced plastic feeding and watering devices and salt holders designed for horses and other types of livestock:
Steel pipe frame structures with reinforced membrane skins are a fairly old idea that has been given new life in equine management. They can provide economical shelter in many configurations. Energy Shelters of America (www.sheltersofamerica.com) is a company that specializes in this building type.
Moisture and Erosion Control
Soil strip drains are an alternative to the traditional drain tile and gravel bed solution to drainage. They are rectangular , high-density plastic drain material wrapped in filter fabric. They are sold in convenient, lightweight rolls for easy transportation and handling. They are designed to eliminate mud by draining surface and ground water from the top 12 inches of soil, resulting in healthier, more attractive conditions for horses and other livestock.
To install strip drains, identify the area in which water or mud is a persistent problem. The soil strip drain re-distributes surface and ground water to areas of the property that allow water to drain more freely.
The following companies manufacture soil strip drains. They can be purchased at large hardware retail supply companies like Lowe's and Home Depot.
Where permitted by zoning laws, freight containers can also serve as sanitary weatherproof feed storage containers for pasture areas. TPSI Containers of Gloucester City New Jersey sells new and refurbished freight containers in several sizes that can serve the relatively small 10-horse operation to large horse breeding operations of 50 or more.
Prevention is the key to success in this regard. Eliminating pests is far more expensive and time-consuming. It is also potentially dangerous to horses and their farm buddies (dogs, goats, etc.) when using poison and traps to correct a preventable infestation problem.
As most horse owners know, an hour of time saved on farm labor can mean an additional hour of time spent at leisure with a horse. Efficient and safe use of paddocks can provide the time savings and healthy conditions that both horse and rider need.