When the situation changes, queue the back-up plan…

Morning everyone!

It seems like only yesterday we were walking the acreage as we mapped out the locations for future horse facilities on the farm. As our horses are only stalled in inclement weather, planning out the location and size of our pastures was our first priority.

I am delighted to report that we have been positively ecstatic about our CenFlex pasture that was completed mid-summer last year. It has proven itself a very reliable and horse-friendly material. But in retrospect I have found only one fault, its size.

Let us consider this from another viewpoint: Cause & Effect.

By permitting too many horses to be kept on a pasture that was not large enough to accommodate them (cause), I found myself facing off against overgrazing of the pasture whilst hemorrhaging funds to supply additional feed to balance out dietary needs of the horses (effect).

Now then, how did my Type-1 OCD self go from carefully planning out every conceivable detail from day one to now feeling the nagging pressure of having a secondary pasture installed as soon as possible …a year ahead of our budgeted schedule?

Such is an excellent question with an imperfect answer.

It began with taking on a fourth horse in which, given her physical condition, I simply couldn’t walk away without bringing her home. Eighteen hours later this seemingly emaciated mare, with ribs so prominent it was hard to look, foaled a beautiful little filly that was by some sort of miracle – perfect – .

Life is far more bizarre and fantastical than fiction at times.

So from three horses, in which our pasture was adequately sized, we had gone to four and suddenly five in the course of 24 hours give or take. And as life tends to trend towards the realm of unexpected, not soon after I found out a friend’s horse was in an unfavorable boarding situation where the “facilities” available were run-down and damaged. To make matters even better, he was bullied off of the communal round bale leaving him rather thin. Naturally, I offered to have her horse brought to our farm. (To that respect, I’ve not doubted the decision once. Watching him fill back out, his personality return, and him become relaxed once more has been worth it!)  However, herein lies our problem because Houston, we’ve now reached six. Double the number I’d anticipated when planning everything out.

Now I have been asked why having six horses versus four  on our pasture is an issue. I will happily elaborate on that question now:

The basic rule of thumb is that when pasturing a horse, you will need a minimum of 2 acres per horse in order to provide enough forage to meet their dietary needs. Now you can have a minimum of only 1 acre per horse IF you supplement hay and grain to their diet.

Now fair is fair. By that logic I should have ideally had no more than 2 horses on 4 acres however, though we had 3 initially on a 4 acres, I have been supplementing hay and grain twice a day to meet dietary needs. So while not perfect, it would be adequate until our next pasture was installed (originally scheduled fall of 2018).

So when one considers that 4 horses on a 4-acre pasture would be the maximum (with additional feed supplementation) and we have 6 horses on 4 acres, you can see where problems might arise.

Ironically, a pasture can become “stressed” due to overgrazing. Horses have a knack for avoiding weeds and nibbling just those precious stalks of grass, going so far as to tear the root from the soil at times. As I neither wanted to increase fructan levels nor have a 4-acre parcel of dirt, being able to rotate pastures moved to the top of our priority list.

As this was going to happen outside of our budgeted time frame, I was forced to consider alternative fencing options to my preferred CenFlex. I know that some folks will argue for days that barbed wire is perfectly suitable and I have heard the same for electric fences, to keep it simple, I’ve had issues with both in the past while boarding our horses and those are experiences I’d be just fine never repeating.

With that in mind and knowing CenFlex was leaps and bounds outside our current funds, we elected for a mesh-styled ‘no climb’ wire fence with a polymer coating along the top of each spool. I am entirely the person that said I’d never have wire anything on my property but necessity outweighed personal preference in this case.

We knew the location, size, shape, and materials we were going to use for the fence…the next step was getting set up with a fencing company and having it installed. To think the fun hadn’t even begun yet…

Stay tuned,

~Christy

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