Happy pony in pasture. (Halter only on for photo, no worries).
There are many advantages to a pasture kept horse. For Izzy, those advantages are this:
-Clean hoof wall
Mostly, she's gone from being a not-very-spooky horse to being the horse that never spooks at all. Also, I don't even have to lunge her. Those are all nice things.
On the other hand, nobody ever talks about the darker side of pasture board. I miss most of the bad stuff-since Izzy is alone, I don't have to worry about idiot horse beating her and fights and cuts and stuff. I still get to deal with this kind of excitement:
1) BUGS. For some reason, just the presence of irrigated pasture brings bugs. Lots of them. We have flies (not so bad), gnats (nasty bastards that burrow into her skin and ears), mosquitoes (even nastier bastards who are eating her alive) and various and sundry other yuck creatures, who suck blood in varying amounts. GROSS. Plus, they hardly limit their blood sucking to horses. No, these sanguinarians suck the life out of all living creatures, myself included. I know you're all yelling "fly spray!" and "fly sheet!"
Well folks, there are limits to the abilities of fly spray, even the really nice stuff, and the pony princess cannot wear sheets, especially in summer heat. Period.
2) Food. Because Izzy can eat all day, well, she does. Ms. Mare is as fat as a tick (ha! another bug!) and there's no really great way to limit food intake. I don't trust grazing muzzles for unsupervised use, and due to Izzy's ulceric issues, I don't want her dry lotted for much more than she already is. Food intake is good for her, but she does eat a lot. Conversely, I have friends who keep their horses at a different barn in a group pasture and their mares always look way too thin to me. Sucks to be low mare on the totem pole, huh? Nature isn't kind.
3) Distance. A pasture big enough to keep a horse or a group of horses in is big enough to be a pain to walk through. Yes, in an ideal world, Izzy would whinny and gallop up and meet me at the gate. I'm always jealous of those of you whose horses do that, but Izzy isn't that kind of girl. (Neither am I, really.) She's always happy to come with me, but she knows that I come to her. I blame this on her stupid leopard appy bf who I hated--he had this attitude and she hasn't gotten over it since their relationship ended.
4) Weather. Although Izzy has a super nice run in shed all to herself, obviously she can't eat while under it, so she only uses it in truly inclement weather.
That means she's always out (not wearing a sheet) in whatever we get. Rain, snow, bugs, wind, lightening, there she is. I know she's a horse and can deal with it, but some days I really miss a nice, dry, clean stall.
5) Water. The thing about irrigated pasture in this part of the world is that they have to actually irrigate it.
This is where I live. It's gorgeous. It's cool. It has great weather.
There is precious little water.
We combat that by collecting the melting snow in reservoirs, then sending it through an impressive canal system to farms all around the valley. They then "flood irrigate" their farm land and pastures.
That is just what it sounds like: 4-6 inches of standing water on top of soil. With my horse. Awesome. Now, admittedly, Izzy is on her dry lot for this process, which occurs about every two weeks, but the earth being what it is (not flat), that gets partially flooded, too. Izzy is not the kind of girl who can just stand in the 20'x30' dry area, so her hooves get totally soaked and soft. And sore. Yay...
So there you go. Pasture boarding has it's upsides (have I mentioned cheap?), but there's plenty to hate, too.