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Quick Tips for Fall Horse Property Management

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Providing winning solutions for horse management and the environment since 1997

Quick Tips for Fall Horse Property Management

Alayne Blickle

Tip #1: Spread compost. Fall is a great time to spread compost, which is a rich soil enhancement. It adds micro and macro nutrients and replenishes beneficial bacteria which improve the health of soil and plants. Spread compost in pastures in the fall in a thin layer, no more than a ½ inch thick and no more than three to four inches per season in the same place. For more information, try our 5 Easy Steps to Compost tip sheet.
 
Tip #2: Reroute surface water runoff. During the next heavy rain, go watch where water is coming from and running to. Runoff from driveways, parking areas and hillsides adjacent to confinement areas can add significantly to the problem of managing mud. Ditches, grassy swales, dry wells, water diversion bars and culverts are all useful means for diverting water away from confinement areas and barns. It is considerably easier to build these now then during the next cold downpour. Our Say Goodbye to Mud and Dust tip sheet has more valuable information for getting ahead of mud problems before they start.
 
Tip #3: Bring your horses in off your pastures. If you’re lucky enough to have pasture, now is the time to baby it.  Pastures that are grazed too closely in fall, particularly on small acreages, will be subject to winter damage and a slow start in the spring. For winter protection, it’s best if you allow the grass plants to produce a good amount of leaf growth (at least four inches). Dormant pasture plants can’t survive trampling and continuous grazing and won’t be able to regrow next spring. Saturated soils are also easily compacted during soggy months. A good option for managing horses during this time is to create a winter paddock or sacrifice area. Confine your horses to this area during the winter—as well as in the summer before pastures become overgrazed. Check out our Five Keys to Better Pastures tip sheet for more help managing your pastures. 
 
Tip #4: Review your lighting needs. Do you have adequate outdoor lighting? Are your stalls bright enough to care for horses during dark winter evenings? When you’re feeding at night, will you have enough light to see if the hay you’re feeding is green—or moldy? Would you be better able to pick manure out of your paddocks with flood lighting? Have you been meaning to put in lighting along walkways or drives? Get that work done now instead of waiting until temperatures are freezing and you’re feeding by flashlight. For more tips, try our 20 Things Every New Horse Owner Should Know tip sheet.

What's on your to do list before winter arrives? We'd love to hear your plans, so be sure to leave us a comment!