Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Things I Hate About Pasture Board

As I've mentioned before, Izzy lives out in a big, green, grassy field by herself. She's on a dry lot at night, but out for about 12 hours every day. She has friends on both sides, and by most account is living an ideal horsey life, right down to the number of cookies consumed in the cross ties every day.

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.


  1. I heart our sprinklers -- we don't have to flood irrigate. And I KNOW you're not talking about the mares at our place ... the grey has fat rolls! The chestnut is just, er, pleasantly plump. And Reveille would be fat if I didn't ride her as often as I do. Even so, she gets a belly going if I don't ride for a couple of weeks! And I totally agree: pasture board is way better for calmer ponies. Rev is so much more ridable when she's on pasture (read: during Daylight Savings Time).

    Anyway, you'll really be happier in November!! Stall/run board, not flood irrigated, lots of riding!

  2. Haha...I can completely relate...however it made for good fodder for my latest blog post :P

  3. Salem isn't exactly pasture boarded -- he has a stall in a little barn (he's the only one out there at the moment)that's surrounded by a small paddock that connects to another paddock. For 19 hours a day, his stall door is open and he can wander around the paddocks or go in his stall as he pleases. The other 5-ish hours (8am-1pm) he has to stay in his stall while the other horses are turned out. It's not completely ideal, but it's the best thing I've found for him.

    As far as wet hoves go -- get some Keratex Hoof Gel!!! Here, it rains basically every day (sometimes several times a day) for six months straight. But Salem's barefoot hoofies are rock-hard thanks to Keratex. LOVE that stuff!

  4. Don't forget the pro of not having to muck out! I would MUCH rather pick a yard or paddock then muck out a stable. So much easier.

  5. I totally relate to the bugs thing, as you know:) HATE.

    I'm still preaching the wonders of Durasole to anyone who will listen-I've heard good things about Keratex too, as Frizzle said. Durasole is CHEAP though.

    I'm definitely going to miss Miles' stall when he goes back to 24/7 pasture in October. He likes it too and has no problem being stalled for 10 plus hours. It helps the stalls are 12 x 14 with a window he can hang his big ol' head out too.

    I had no idea that's how irrigated pastures work! Crazy.

    The other thing I DON'T like about stalls is the grossness, like Lisa said. I don't care HOW clean it starts out...5 hours in and all but the cleanest horse will have pee and poo (with the smell and the flies to go with it) everywhere. Sigh. They are just dirty beasts, no matter what:)

  6. Oh yes, the many joys of pasture board :) My mare (and this is honest) wants to live in my house and sleep next to my bed. She is a house pony, not that she doesn't like being outside (she is totally an outdoor girl) but is has followed me into so many place, sometimes we have had trouble getting her out. If there is a chance of people food, she is there. (she likes pizza, alot)

    My gelding will waste away on pasture board in just a couple weeks. It can be tricky sometimes finding the right situation for a horse, but once you have it, stick to it :)


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