The Equicentral System Series

The whole set

Horse Ownership Responsible Sustainable Ethical

Healthy Land, Healthy Pasture, Healthy Horses

Horse Property Planning and Development

Other books by Equiculture

Buying a Horse Property

A Horse is a Horse - of Course

Horse Properties - A management guide

The Horse Riders Mechanic Series

Horse Rider’s Mechanic Workbook 1: Your Position

Horse Rider’s Mechanic Workbook 2: Your Balance

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Horse Properties:

A Management Guide

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Horse Properties - A management guide

Introduction

Healthy Land = Healthy Pasture = Healthy Horses.

There are numerous benefits to managing the land that horses live on as well as possible, these are just some of them:

Good land management is a win win for all!

This book is intended as a guide only and complements our Healthy Land, Healthy Pasture, Healthy Horses talk. For more in depth information on any of the subjects in this book see The Equicentral System series of books listed at the end.

Pasture grown for horses also protects the soil and helps to keep the waterways clean by filtering out nutrients.


Horse characteristics and behaviours

In order to manage the land that horses live on well it is essential to learn about certain normal/natural and abnormal/unnatural horse characteristics and behaviours. Naturally-living (wild/feral) horses have a very different ‘lifestyle’ to domestic horses.

The main differences between the lifestyle of naturally-living horses compared to domestic-living horses are:

Domestic-living horses are often prevented from interacting with other horses which can cause high levels of stress in an animal that would never live alone by choice.


Naturally-living horses are highly social animals.


Daily ‘time-budgets’

Many species of animal have been studied in their natural habitat to find about their daily ‘time budget’. An understanding of how horses naturally use their time helps with their grazing management and therefore land management.



Grazing

Horses have one of the longest daily grazing periods of all the plant eating herbivores. Horses graze in what are termed ‘bouts’ which typically last between 1.5 to 3 hours. Horses usually carry out their grazing bouts throughout the day and night with ‘bouts’ of sleeping and ‘loafing’ (being social) in between.

Horses have one of the longest daily grazing periods of all the plant eating herbivores.


The total daily grazing time of a horse depends on the quality of pasture available. On ‘better’ quality (higher calorie) pasture a horse will spend less total time grazing (approximately 12-14 hours a day) and more time sleeping and loafing. In harsher conditions (such as drought or a very cold/wet winter) when the pasture is ‘poor’ quality (lower in calories) and more fibrous, a horse will spend up to 20 hours a day grazing/browsing if necessary. In this case social behaviour becomes a low priority and they do little more than sleep, search for food and eat, in order to survive.

Sleeping

Adult horses sleep/snooze for about four hours a day, approximately two hours are spent lying down and two standing up. A horse must lay flat out in order to get enough rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. They can snooze, but not sleep deeply, while standing. This total time of about four hours is split into bouts of around 15 minutes at a time throughout the day and night. In very wet weather horses will often wait until the sun comes out to lay down rather than lay down in the rain.

A total of approximately two hours a day are spent lying down - flat out.


In a group of horses, one horse usually stays standing when the others are asleep on the ground.


Loafing

Loafing describes all the other things that horses do with their day, such as mutual grooming, playing and simply standing around together, being social. These behaviours are very important for a horse’s well being and generally take up a total of about four hours a day.

‘You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours’.


Standing around together is of top priority to horses, they will often disregard other comforts in order to be able to stand near other horses. This is seen when horses are kept separately in ‘private paddocks’ where they will ignore shade/shelter in order to stand next to each other on either side of the fence.

When horses are kept separately in ‘private paddocks’ they will often ignore shade/shelter in order to stand next to each other on either side of the fence.


The grazing behaviour of horses

Horses are herbivores; they eat plants and lots of them. This natural food source for horses is low in calories and takes a long time to collect, chew and digest.

Here are some interesting facts about horses and their grazing behaviour:


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Horse Properties  - A Management Guide


This book is a guide to the sustainable management of a horse property. It covers the horse characteristics that you need to understand in order to manage horses and the land that they live on. It also covers a fresh approach to land management that encompasses horse welfare, good environmental management and time/budget saving strategies…  

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Contents

 Horse Properties - A management guide

Introduction

Horse characteristics and behaviours

Daily ‘time-budgets’

Grazing

Sleeping

Loafing

The grazing behaviour of horses

The importance of fibre to horses

Food selection in horses

Walking while grazing

The pastured behaviour of domestic horses

The ‘standing around behaviour’ of domestic horses

Factors that increase ‘standing around behaviour’:

The problem with gateways

The ‘tracking behaviour’ of domestic horses

The ‘dunging behaviour’ of domestic horses

Horses and land degradation

Bare/compacted soil and erosion

Too much water

Not enough water

Weeds

Control of weeds

Healthy Land

Benefits for horses

Benefits for land and the environment

Benefits for horse owners

Biodiversity and horses

Improving pasture

Grasses for horses

Simple solutions for turning land degradation around

Mulching

Using swales

Pasture/grazing management

Grazing systems

Set-stocking

Rotational grazing

Limited grazing

Strip grazing

Cross grazing

Manure management

Composting manure

Paddock manure management

Pasture maintenance

Clean water on a horse property

The water catchment  

The results of poor water management

Grazing control around waterways

Vegetation on a horse property

Existing vegetation

Protection and care of trees and plants

Putting it all together

The Equicentral System

How The Equicentral System works

The Equicentral System benefits

Horse health/welfare benefits

Time saving benefits

Cost saving benefits

Safety benefits

Land/environmental management benefits

Public perception benefits

Manure and parasitic worm management benefits

Summary of the main points

Further reading - A list of our books



Hi there, we now have a brand new website - can you please go to www.equiculture.net - where you will receive - COMPLETELY FREE the 3 part  (¾ hour) video series called Horse Grazing Characteristics. Next we are working on some free stuff for Horse Rider’s Mechanic too - so don’t miss out! Join our new mailing on the new site to keep in touch - see you there.