Perfect turnout tips
By Justine Thompson
09 March 2010 11:36
Next time you turn your horse out, stop and look down between those mud-covered wellies at what’s beneath your feet. It’s something that few of us do, according to Miles Greenwood of Yorkshire-based pasture specialists Equine Pasture Maintenance.
“Spring is the ideal time to assess the state of your fields,” says Miles. “As things start to grow, take a good look at the grass. Is the ground poached or trodden down, with bald patches and areas that might go to weed?”
After a hard winter, Miles advises that paddocks should be freshened up. Chain harrowing will tidy the pasture and aerate the soil, while bald spots will benefit from overseeding. Major weeds such as thistles, nettles, docks and buttercups need tackling before they smother the growth of healthy grass.
“A well-kept pasture is essential to a horse’s health and wellbeing,” says Miles. “To have the best paddocks, it’s not usually a matter of doing a lot, but of doing the right thing at the right time – so keep on top of it.”
Enlist expert help for ragwort control, spraying, fertilising or soil analysis. As Miles points out: “Most people understand their horses, but few understand their grass.”
And if there's a new horse to the field...
A few high jinks are inevitable while new field companions settle and establish a pecking order, but turning out a bunch of complete strangers can soon end with flying hooves and some costly vet bills.
Familiarise horses first by hacking them out together or grazing them in adjacent paddocks before introducing them in pairs. Stay and observe them for signs of fighting or bullying.
Turning your horse out in boots will provide some support and injury protection if arguments do break out.