In my previous blog I spoke about the importance of a facilities fencing as it relates to the horses safety. I'd like to continue on the subject of horse safety and talk about the pasture and paddock area.
Any of you who already own a horse know how quickly a horse can find trouble. They just can't help it because of their curious nature. Eliminating the risks is key to keeping your horse from suffering a serious injury or even death. Over the years I have seen some real messes, I was even once at a training facilities where old tractors and dirt bikes had been left out in the same pasture as the horses brought in for training. I left the place thinking what kind of effort is this trainer going to put into training horses when they can't even haul a rusty old tractor out of the paddock. This sort of situation is just asking for a horse to cut themselves. A pasture should be free of old equipment, junk pile, baler twine or any other items a horse could get themselves caught up in. Make sure water troughs and feeders are well maintained and free of sharp edges. The out building should be in good repair and free from protruding nails. If sheet metal is used on the run ins the edges should be capped.
It would be nice if the paddock was free of burrs but in some places this is almost impossible. . This just means a little more grooming time. I suggest you stay on top of the burr situation though because a mated tail and forelock can be a real annoyance to your horse.
If the horses are brought in and out for feeding or stalled at night ask that the halter be removed. Too many horses have hung themselves out in a paddock or even in a stall because their halter got caught on something. If they need to wear a halter make sure it is a break away halter.
Ideally the paddock or pasture will have plenty of natural shelter, shade and running water. Uneven terrain and some rocky out crops. These natural settings help keep a horse from getting bored protected from wet and cold and can also be beneficial to maintaining barefoot horses. A muddy area is also ideal to help give added moisture to dry hooves in the summer or in warm climates. This usually occurs near the watering area.
Make sure the pasture isn't overcrowded. In my neck of the woods where pastures get plenty of rain and sun in the summer we can put about 7 to 8 horses on a 10 acre plot from may to October before any hay needs to be fed. Overcrowding can also lead to insect infestation from manure build up. Ask the barn manager if the paddocks are picked clean of manure.
I hope this gives you some idea of what to look for in a facility particularly if you want pasture board. Next post I we will discuss what to look for in the barn area.