The early days of Autumn signal the unofficial end of the equine season. Ensuring your paddock is prepared for the harsher winter months to come is crucial to keeping your best friends’ area in great condition. Below we share a few top tips to help keep your paddock in the best possible condition over the coming months…
General pasture maintenance
Check the entire boundary of your paddock. Replace any cracked fencing, tighten any loose electric fencing, and straighten and strengthen any fence posts that look weak. If your horses like to snack on wood, such as boundary fences or trees, use an anti-chewing product on the relevant areas. If your paddock has any trees that are potentially toxic to horses, such as cherry or red maple, you could also wrap these in burlap or a wire mesh.
Now is also the best time to level any uneven surfaces. Once winter sets in the ground will harden and if your paddock doesn’t drain well it can be hard to correct. Addressing any potential problems now will pay dividends later. This will also be your last chance before the frost sets in to throw down some seeds on patchy areas. Over seeding can ensure you have a productive pasture; the trick is to get started early enough for the plants to have ample moisture before the first frost sets in.
It’s also a good idea to test your soil so you can identify if it’s lacking any essential nutrients. You can then invest in a good quality fertiliser to treat your pasture accordingly. It’s also a good idea to remove any rocks or large stones that have protruded through the ground, as this can make it more comfortable for your horses.
Make sure your feed room is free from rodents and is strong enough to keep the horses out. Fill any gaps in the brickwork or around the door. Place wooden pallets underneath feed bags to minimise moisture exposure and reduce mold.
Inspect any stalls for damage to the wood. If you find any holes or cracks, you should replace the boards. If the floor has rubber mats, you should inspect these for excessive wear and holes. If the floor is sand or clay, this is a good time to level it.
Check all your exterior electrics for rodent damage and make sure all switches and light bulbs are working correctly. Perform a complete inspection of all the relevant plumbing, repairing any leaks and ensuring it’s all in good shape before the cold weather comes. Use lagging or heat tape to help prevent your pipes from freezing over the winter.
Check your pasture for falling seeds regularly, such as sycamore and acorns, as both can be poisonous to horses. If you have the space, rotate your pastures to minimise the damage caused. Try to keep the pasture as free from droppings as you can. This will encourage even pasture and reduce the likelihood of weeds and parasites.