Pasture management basics


It’s sort of simple to manage horse pastures when you get all of the ducks in a row. How many horses you have, how much land there is, where you live, how long the horses are turned out, and even local water restrictions, your local weather plays a huge role, too.


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General guidelines for horse pasture management:


  • One acre of pasture can support two horses for one month.


  • Open your pastures when there are about 4 inches of growth. When about 50% is gone, time to rest the pasture.


  • Allow about 3 weeks to rest a pasture before you put horses out again.


horse in the distance grazing in grass pasture

So much horse salad!


Every part of the country will have different soils and climates.


  • This will determine what types of grasses to use for your pastures. Check with your local agricultural extension service for their suggestions for your area. It’s likely that you will use one “base” grass that can be top-seeded with a non-competitive variety when the base grass is dormant (either summer or winter). For example, use a base grass like Bermuda, which grows in the summer, and top seed with winter rye, which only grows in the winter.


Understand how your horses move around in pastures.


  • Waterers and gates are high traffic, you may want to intentionally leave that area with good draining gravel or sand. Gates placed away from corners are also a great way to save a bit of pasture and make things safer for herds. More on gates here.

drainage area around water trough in grass pasture

Waterers and troughs have gravel pads to reduce mud.


Horses also like to eat the sweet stuff – which comes from grass that is stressed or in transition.


  • For example, grass that has just been eaten down will have higher sugar, so it’s tastier. So your horses will eat it down to the dirt. This is why you often see fetlock deep pastures with large patches of super-short grass.


  • The sweet stuff is also around when the grass goes to seed. Letting your pastures go to seed is great, saves you some time and money. But, horses love the seed heads, it’s wise to let the pastures rest during that time. You should also be leery of any metabolically challenged horses eating the super sweet grasses and pasture. More on that here!


fjord horse in greenguard grazing muzzle

Use grazing muzzles when sugars are high. This is the Greenguard Equine muzzle.


  • Horses pound the earth, so plan on aerating your pastures at least twice a year if the ground becomes hard. You can rent machines that do this from a local gardening supply house. This allows fertilizers and water (and air) to reach the soil below the roots. It’s a great thing to do before your pasture rests!


gray horse with fly mask grazing on a hill



It’s great to be able to water your pastures when you can if you need to, many parts of the country are on water restrictions and this will definitely affect your watering capabilities.


  • Low flow sprinklers placed under the fence (not on top where the wind carries away precious water) do the trick. Turn the sprinklers on overnight, for about 10 minutes or so a few times through the night. Most grasses do better with shorter drinks than a deep soak, and the deep soak from sprinklers often just run off the top.


In order to control the weeds, mowing your pasture periodically is also encouraged.


  • While this may seem counter-intuitive, the mowing knocks down the plants that your horses have decided to avoid and allows the tender shoots of forage that your horse prefers to snack on. If it’s a particularly large weed, pull it!


Removing manure will help the grass grow more evenly and not create the “dead” patches in the grass.


  • When you remove manure, treat the area with a stall freshener to neutralize the ammonia, as ammonia tends to kill off those tender grasses. Also, be on the lookout for any urine spots, many horses like to urinate in the same area and this may start to damage the grass.


  • Removing manure from pastures also helps stop the spread of intestinal parasites!


zeolites for urine in the grass

Not just for ammonia in stalls. Zeolites can be used outdoors, too.


If you provide water, shade, and salt, your pasture can be a great way to do your turnouts, even if it’s only for a little bit every day.


What works for you?

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Stock up here for your horse supplies! As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases, but it’s ZERO extra cents to you.  You can also visit my Amazon storefront here:  PEG storefront.

Halters – GG Equine

These grazing muzzle halters have adjustable throat latches and extra strapping to help prevent removal.

Use code 15PROEQUINE for a sitewide discount on muzzles, halters, accessories, and slow feeders.

Grazing Muzzle by GG Equine

Basket-style grazing muzzle to help keep a horse at a healthy weight and help reduce the risks of colic and laminitis in some horses.

Use code 15PROEQUINE for savings sitewide on muzzles, halters, slow feeders, and more.

Grazing Muzzle Accessories – GG Equine

Help your horse have the best-fitting grazing muzzle.

Use code 15PROEQUINE for a site-wide discount on halters, muzzles, slow feeders, and accessories.

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Sweet PDZ Zeolite Powder
$51.91 ($0.09 / Ounce)
03/11/2024 10:18 pm GMT
33Lb. Bag of Grade A Premium Hemp Bedding
$62.95 $58.95 ($0.11 / Ounce)
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Farnam Chew Stop Aerosol
$19.99 $17.58

Helps to stop your horse from eating the barn and fencing

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Great to use with buckets to discourage cribbing

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Equiessentials Slow Feed Hay Ball Large
$155.18 $131.24 ($131.24 / Count)
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Hydrophane Cribox 8 oz. tub - 8Oz

This thick paste discourages chewing

03/12/2024 09:28 am GMT
Shires Right Angle Scratcher Panels Set of 3
$44.99 $39.95 ($13.32 / Count)
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3.0 CUFT Pine Bedding
$27.56 ($27.56 / Count)
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HayPlay Slow Feed Bag XL – GG Equine

One side of this innovative slow feeder is solid - perfect for pastures! It will hold a small bale of hay.

Use code 15PROEQUINE for sitewide savings on slow feeders and more.

HayPlay Slow Feed Bag – GG Equine - 2 sizes available

2 sizes of this slow-feeding hay toy - snack size holds a few flakes, and the half size holds 1/2 bale.

Use code 15PROEQUINE for sitewide savings on slow feeders and more.

Noble Equestrian Adjustable Wave Fork
$52.95 ($52.95 / Count)

Now picking stalls can be more colorful.

05/07/2024 04:20 pm GMT
Noble Equestrian Adjustable Wave Fork
$52.95 ($52.95 / Count)

Nothing says posh like a gold colored manure fork.

04/12/2024 01:05 pm GMT
Toolwiz Magnetic Sweeper with Wheels, 50 Lbs Capacity

You will be amazed at what the ground will throw at ya.

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Thank you!