One of the challenges of this time of year is managing the pasture so you can be assured of a healthy pasture that in turn feeds your horses for as much of the growing season as possible. My pastures are starting to have a slight green tinge to them as the temperatures rose and the wonderful warm sun shone down on us. It is SO tempting to turn the horses out in the big pasture to watch them run and frolic. One of the joys of horsekeeping is to be able to turn them out into a large expanse and watch them kick up their heels and romp (and fart!) to their heart's content! I have learned though in order to preserve my pasture I just can't. Those thundering hooves wreck havoc on the soft ground this time of year. I have learned delayed grass-ification.
In order to have a lush, green pasture that holds up for the bulk of the growing season those hooves just can't tromp on the pasture. The horses have to be turned out into mud paddocks unless the ground is firm or frozen. This time of the year they get a whiff of the spring air and they KNOW things have begun to grow. I can imagine how torturous it must be for them. They can look out on the other side of the fence and practically taste the grass in the air but that's as far as they get.
To make matters worse when the grass IS in and the ground IS firm then they are restricted from being on the grass full time. They are eased into their time on the green pasture because spring grass is like high octane fuel. You wouldn't think something so GREEN would be fatting and rich but it is for horses.
I have an 'easy keeper' mare. She gets fat just looking at the grass! In fact, I am at the point with her that I may need to start turning her out with a grazing muzzle. How torturous is that?? To be surrounded by this lush grass and be muzzled??? But really it is for her own good. I purposefully let her thin out over the winter so she is safer on the grass in the spring but that may not be enough. If that doesn't work then she'll need to be on a dry lot which is a small turn out area of just dirt so they don't over eat.
So in the interest of good equine and pasture health, we are practicing delayed grassification. Just ignore the horse slobber as they gaze longingly over the fence....
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