It’s officially Springtime and at this time of year we are all enjoying seeing the horses out in the fields more. Making the most of longer days, warmer weather and the odd chance of not even needing to wear rugs! This is exactly the right time of year to get outside and check the paddocks to make sure that turnout time for your horse is as safe as possible. If the sun is shining then it is also a great excuse to spend some time taking in the rays too – vitamin D is important for us humans as well as our horses!
Take the time to walk around the perimeter of the field and check your fencing. Make sure all fence posts are secure and railings are nailed in. Check that no nails are exposed etc. If you are using electric or tape fencing check the tension. Make sure that the posts are secured correctly and are deep enough into the ground. Check the battery packs if using electric and make sure that all those turning horses out know how to switch the electric on and off safely! Also make sure you have checked the gates. Check they open and close and that the hinges and catches are all working well. Lubricate hinges if needs be.
Checking the grazing is vital. Be on the look out for things like ragwort, sycamores – seeds, leaves and seedlings. Also acorns, yew trees, bracken, hemlock, buttercups, nightshade, horsetail and meadow saffron. All of these can cause serious symptoms and some can even result in death. Removing poisonous plants and trees before horses graze the land is obviously advisable. Keeping the grazing in tip top condition means regular poo picking as well to stop the grass from souring and to keep the worm burden under check.
Depending on how you provide water in the field there are a number of things to check. If you use buckets or a trough then make sure these have been cleaned thoroughly. Check that no algae has formed, before refilling with clean fresh water. If there is an automatic drinking system installed make sure this is running correctly. Check that if it has been switched off that the pipes have been flushed through correctly and containers cleaned out.
Harrowing is a great way to promote new grass growth and rolling can help repair any winter damage that the fields may have suffered. Top tip though, check weather conditions thoroughly before rolling; too wet and you compact soil and hamper grass growth, too dry and no results are seen. Fertiliser is important; the grass needs a helping hand to grow and this is what fertiliser does. You can also reseed any gateways or fence lines if they are looking patchy.
It is lovely to see our equine friends out in the fields after such a long winter and such cold conditions. Take the time to make sure that their spring grazing is as enjoyable as possible for them. Also bear in mind that if they have only just started going out after a winter in to make sure you graze them out little and often to begin with. Allow their digestive system to adjust. Once the sun starts shining and the temperature rises, their rugs can come off and they can grab some of that all important vitamin D. Happy summer grazing days are not far away!!