Equestrian Paddock Management

Paddock Size and Overgrazing 

Small paddock sizes and overgrazing can lead to poor grazing conditions for your horse(s). The recommended grazing area is 1.5 acres per horse. This allows for resting and rotation of grazing paddocks and limits damage to paddocks due to intensive grazing and excessive footfall in high traffic spots.

Observations of overgrazing on small paddocks:

1: There will be heavier poaching at gates and fence lines leading to little or no grass, which can cause soil structure issues and erosion, inhibit water run off and creates large areas where grass will be unable to grow.

2: You will see higher weed and moss population leading to the need for chemicals to be used to control them.

3: Your horse could be undernourished leading to the chewing of fencing to try and abstract nutrients in other ways. This could also lead to horses breaking out of paddocks to reach better grass, often resulting in horses reaching unsuitable and dangerous pasture. 

4: This will cause a significant increase in costs due to the need to replace damaged fencing and increases the risk of entanglement from makeshift fencing. 

5: It becomes harder to maintain paddocks mechanically and treat weeds, especially under fence lines.

Example of an overgrazed, poorly managed plot. 

2.3 acres  - 7 individual paddocks - 5 horses 
Area of no grass approximately in each paddock due to fence and gate erosion = 276 m²  x by 7 paddocks = 1932 m² = almost half an acre of grazing lost, leaving just 1.82 acres of already valuable grazing area. 

 


We have observed that spreading the load (hoof fall) over larger areas is far more beneficial to grazing potentials.

We understand that sometimes horses cannot be together and sometimes due to dietary restrictions smaller paddocks are sought, but where possible, keep paddocks as open and big as possible and it is always a good idea to have summer and winter paddocks to allow resting.