Amazing Secrets of Equine Pasture Management

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These weeds require soil disturbance and bare soil to germinate and grow. Any practice that opens up or destroys the sod base allows these weeds to flourish. Drought and other weather maladies usually prompt the need for additional forage production in the fall and early spring. But even in a normal growing season, it often makes good sense to conserve stored hay supplies and plant an annual forage in late summer or early fall. Fall pasture management is a critical period for pastures. For many of us we have had adequate rainfall up until recently and pastures have done well to this point.

As we transition into late summer and early fall it is critical to pay close attention to your forages. Some pastures may be stockpiled, but those intended to be grazed this fall still need time to rest. Management decisions made this fall will greatly impact forage growth next year. The end of July always marks a crucial time for forage producers, especially those with livestock mouths to feed and less than desirable forage inventories.

But then again, even if forage inventories are in pretty good shape, why would you want to pass on the opportunity to get some additional high-quality forage? As recent changing forage-production trends go, seeding something in late summer for additional fall, winter, or early spring forage ranks high on the list. Further, it can be captured in a variety of forms — hay, baleage, silage, or green. To capitalize on this opportunity, now is the time to start formulating a strategy and evaluating options.

Ohio growers experienced another wet spring and compressed spring planting season. On some farms, this caused postponement of plans for spring seeding of alfalfa and other perennial forages. In some areas, the prolonged wet weather affected forage harvest schedules, resulting in harvest equipment running on wet forage fields leaving ruts, compacted soils and damage to alfalfa crowns. Some of these forage acres need to be re-seeded. Sheep are ruminants, so outside of a feedlot situation the majority, if not all, of their nutrient requirements should be met from forages.

For most sheep owners, this means that hay is an important component of the ration through at least the winter months and possibly even longer, including times of pasture shortages due to drought or poor forage stands. There are two critical questions to answer when using hay to meet sheep nutritional needs:. Haying generally removes significantly more nutrients from the soil than do grain crops, in addition to the damage it causes to soil life and the lack of biological stimulation.

Examples from an Oklahoma State University publication generally match the data from other states. These are pounds of nutrient per ton of hay, so you can extrapolate this to a per-acre basis using your hay yields. Note these are only mineral content. Its popularity began in the s when a wild strain of fescue was discovered on a Kentucky farm and it became recognized for wide adaptability. In thes, the cultivated variety was publically released and can now be found in most pastures in the United States.

This cultivar is easy to establish, persistent, tolerant of many environmental stresses, resistant to pests, and can aid livestock managers in prolonging the grazing season. However, tall fescue does not accomplish all of these tasks unassisted. An endophytic fungus called Neotyphodium coenophialum can be credited for many of these benefits. The fungus cannot be seen and can only be detected by laboratory analysis. One of the many things that David Letterman gets remembered for is his Top 10 lists. Lists, especially those that are ranked, are great for generating a plethora of discussion and arguments — just ask two passionate baseball fans to list the top 10 players during the past 50 years.

The factors are listed in order of perceived importance. Mud, nutrient leaching, and erosion are a few of the ailments pastures across our region are experiencing in It can be challenging to be thankful for rain in years like this. This year you have likely witnessed the rain wash away freshly planted seed, topsoil, and nutrients while trudging through swamps that should be access roads, watching seed heads develop on valuable hay, and cutting fallen limbs off damaged fence.

Nature has taunted many this season. In Southeast Ohio, opportunities to make hay have been few and far between due to soggy soil conditions and high humidity. The longer harvest is delayed, the poorer nutritive value becomes. Most producers have probably harvested first cutting hay that will barely meet requirements for animal maintenance. Looking beyond the frustration to solutions, there are things we can do to relieve the pressure that heavy rainfall inflicts on hayfields and grazed pastures.

Several tactics can be used to control this problem weed and these methods will be briefly discussed. Mechanical control methods include mowing, which requires repeated mowings per season for several years, and excavating, which involves pulling individual plants from the soil with heavy equipment, can be costly, time-consuming and laborious. However, these are viable means for multiflora rose management. Summer annual grass grazing is a great tool for livestock operations. While it adds flexibility, management decisions are needed to make it worth the time and cost.

Sorghum-sudangrass sudex , sudangrass, pearl millet, foxtail millet, and teff are the most commonly used grazing summer annuals. With the limited opportunities and short windows many have had to make hay so far this year, some hay may have been made at higher moisture levels than we would like. Moisture levels have a direct effect on hay quality. To be more specific:. Supplementing short pastures. You could say there was a perfect storm coming into this spring.

The combination of wet weather, cool temperatures, and less growing degree days has led to slow pasture growth. Low hay stockpiles have compounded the problem. During my extension agent days, I walked many of these fields. Most forage seeds are small and sensitive to their microenvironment. Comparison of Continuous vs.

This year Dr. Liz Parker and myself co-instructed this course and worked diligently to expose our students to every aspect of the small ruminant industry, including extension outreach and producer education. As a part of the course curriculum, students were challenged to compose an Ag-note educational poster to highlight a specific topic that is related to sheep or goat production, management, and husbandry. Across the U. This hay must be able to provide the necessary amount of protein and energy to fulfill the nutrient needs of the [animals] that will consume it.

But all hay should not be viewed as equal as it varies in nutrient content due to multiple factors. While fertilization, weed pressure, and grass variety are what most consider, the most influential factor on nutrient content is stage of maturity at harvest. Full disclosure — I am not an economist. However, my premise is this: For various reasons, many growers would be economically better off growing a different forage than what they have always grown.

Growers, myself included, often dedicate time and energy to selecting the right variety and best management practices for a particular forage. But we seldom seem to stop and think about if that forage is the right one to grow. A step plan to Amazing Grazing. Adaptive grazing is a term describing a management approach that includes many practices such as frequent rotation of cattle and stockpiling for winter grazing. It is not a recipe; it is a very flexible system that producers can modify to fit their needs and skills.

However in a forage system, crabgrass can be the right plant, in the right place, at the right time. Volumes have been written about the importance of cutting alfalfa on time. Truth be told, it may be even more critical for grasses. Jimmy Henning, extension forage agronomist with the University of Kentucky, points to research from the University of Tennessee that is a compelling example of how harvest timing drives future animal performance. He writes about the research in the most recent UK Forage News newsletter.

Laying down hay in the widest possible swath speeds drying, improves quality and probably saves money in the long run. In fact, forming a wide swath at cutting is the single most important factor in maximizing initial drying rate and preserving starches and sugars, says Dan Undersander, University of Wisconsin extension agronomist. The spring of 8 was the latest I can remember feeding hay to my cattle, and many producers were searching at the last minute to find some extra hay. Pastures were very slow growing this spring until it finally warmed up in early May.

On my farm, common orchardgrass typically starts heading out in late April, and it was two weeks later this year. The late-arriving spring brought many challenges around farms, and the rush to get crops in the ground and to make hay has put mowing pastures on the backburner. However, now may be a great time to mow pastures. Our perennial grasses go through two stages during the growing season: the reproductive stage and the vegetative stage. The story of Kentucky 31 tall fescue reads like a soap opera.

Found on a Menifee County Kentucky hill side in , it quickly became a rival to Kentucky bluegrass as the most important grass in Kentucky. Its yield and persistence made it look unbeatable, but its animal performance numbers were sometimes poor or worse. The decision by the University of Kentucky to go forward with the release of Kentucky 31 was filled with about as much drama as you will ever find in an academic setting.

This time of the year most of us are waiting for winter to end, looking forward to warmer temperatures and greener pastures. Very few people woke up this morning thinking about drought. The problem is that if we wait until June or July to start thinking about how to deal with a drought, we have missed out on several management tools to reduce its impact. However, for most of us, the answer is yes! The recent warm weather has allowed the pasture and hay fields to really start growing at a fast clip.

There are several different thoughts on when to start grazing and I admittedly take a very aggressive approach to start grazing in the spring.


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I will even confess that it probably started thirty years ago when I was running out of hay. I start grazing as soon as I can. I use two approaches to early grazing. I meet a lot of people at forage meetings during the course of a year. Never has anyone broached the subject of sericea lespedeza. Edwards is one of those farmers who is not afraid to move outside the box of accepted practices or try whatever the latest extension recommendation might be. Winter has come and gone, and despite the many scares Mother Nature provided, and the well-in-advance warnings by local weather stations around the state, many of us chose not to rush out and stock up on break and milk.

And miraculously, we survived. Hopefully, all of your livestock, with the proper planning and nutrition, survived the cold snaps and snow storms as well. So now that we are moving into the growing season and will soon be, or maybe already are, grazing in some areas, all of those concerns about what and when to feed livestock are over until next winter approaches.

Pasture-based livestock production at first glance is a simple system. Producers use herbivores to harvest forage and create something they can sell or enjoy. In the past, it has been typical to use a continuous grazing system where livestock will remain on the same pasture for an extended period, but this can lead to poor forage utilization. Livestock will roam large pastures as they seek out their preferred plant species and leave others to become degraded, mature, and unpalatable.

Cattle, horses, sheep, and goats are all susceptible to internal parasites, which can be devastating to producers economically. Most dairy producers are fairly aggressive with alfalfa cutting schedules. Their goal is to achieve high-quality forage. But cutting too frequently usually shortens the life of alfalfa and often gives lower yields, even when more cuttings are taken per growing season. Recent results from a two-year study at the Western Agricultural Research Center of The Ohio State University demonstrate the yield and quality trade-off.

I had a conversation recently in which some common mindsets that interfere with profitability in livestock operations were brought out. An acquaintance asked me if we had started feeding. Knowing that he had an unusually wet summer, I asked if he did not have grass left when his normal time to start feeding came around. Edwards sold his hay about as fast as he could make it, mostly to customers with Boar show goats or dairy goats.

Why goats? Late this month depending on the weather and on into April provides one of the two preferred times to seed perennial cool-season forages. The other preferred timing for cool-season grasses and legumes is in late summer, primarily the month of August here in Ohio. The relative success of spring versus summer seeding of forages is greatly affected by the prevailing weather conditions, and so growers have success and failures with each option. Forage Corner: Here is advice to help you make the best first-cutting hay possible.

Making quality hay can be difficult any time of year. First-cutting hay can provide extra challenges, largely due to weather and other time demands early in the season. As alfalfa stands age, they become thinner. The thinner alfalfa population allows weeds to encroach the field. Weeds can also be a problem if weeds were not properly managed prior to seeding the alfalfa. As we begin to move into spring, we need to start thinking about spring forage growth and how we will be managing our pastures over the course of the new year.

Pasture management is very important for grazing animals; cattle, horse, llama, and sheep owners. By managing pastures more effectively, land managers can increase forage production, lower production costs, improve aesthetics, and promote a healthier environment. The benefits of a well-managed pasture include reducing environmental impacts of your operation, including movement of soil and manure to water bodies; improving property aesthetics, which makes for good neighbor relations, and increases property value; and providing feed and recreation for your horses.

Using a rotational grazing system can enhance these benefits. For optimal health, horses and llamas need to eat 1 to 1. Image Source: University of Georgia Extension. In addition, I found this piece interesting as it highlights some alternative frost-seeding methods from our very own Mr. I encourage you all to take a look and see what information Wayne and the others have to offer. It also marks a time when pasture managers need to start frost seeding or begin giving it serious thought.

Eight things to remember about soil and livestock health and improvement. I am so well organized that it is often a relief when my flip phone rings so I can find it. One thing we need to do in the winter is rest up a little and think and plan and visit with other successful grazing beef producers. Most of us could use and profit from soil that is actually growing in organic matter, mineralization, color and depth. Gone are the days when warm-season weeds seemingly had a corner on the warm-season pasture market. Producers who typically focus their control efforts on warm-season broadleaf and grass weeds, such as ragweed, broomweed, sandbur, or johnsongrass, may want to broaden their efforts.

Soils and crops consultant of the Noble Research Institute, Eddie Funderburg, explains that cool-season weeds, or those that emerge in the fall and grow throughout the winter and spring, are finding their way into warm-season pastures. Funderburg explains this growing problem and highlighted some of the main culprits in a recent Noble Research Institute News and Views newsletter.

Oats, barley, triticale, and spring wheat all make for good grazing and hay crops when they are spring-seeded. All kinds of annuals can be planted in the spring, according to Nebraska Extension educator emeritus, Dennis Bauer.

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This is the time of year when farmers will want to think about re-seeding their pasture and hay fields. The secret is to have exposed soil. If you have exposed soil, even in your yard, simply sprinkle seed on the soil and let the frosts work it in. During this time of year, the hills of eastern Ohio are covered in snow, frozen waterfalls, and massive icicles.

Most of us enjoy spending these cold winter days indoors next to the fireplace or with the furnace working overtime. So with their thick wool coats, are sheep actually keeping as warm as you think? What about goats that do not have those nice thick coats? Are they just used to the cold?

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In the various humid regions across the United States, clover species bring a commonality to the miles of separation. Their adaptability to a variety of soils and growing conditions makes them a foundational component in many forage systems. Yet, most forage experts would say that they remain vastly unappreciated and underutilized. But are they? I hope our pasture management goals for the year last longer. As I contemplate the projects I have completed and those that are still on the list for another year, I think about how I can get more production from my pasture or how I can feed more animals on the same amount of land.

Including legumes in grass pastures has the potential to increase the overall nutritive value of the pasture and decrease the need for supplemental nitrogen fertilizer. Read on to find out if you should add more legumes to your pasture. What is so special about legumes? There is something special about legumes that sets them apart from our other forages. They have the ability to foster mutually beneficial relationships with soil bacteria that convert organic nitrogen, which is an unavailable form for plants to utilize, into inorganic nitrogen, making it available for plant uptake.

Even if there is a supply of stockpiled forage available, we tend to make hay available just in case they need a little extra. It is likely that grain is also part of that daily ration. Well, how do you know how much hay, grain, and pasture they need? No one wants to leave their animals hungry. In addition, we do not want to waste time or money with unnecessary feeding. Figuring out the balance can seem like a guessing game, but the place to start is with a hay test.

Testing the hay you are feeding is well worth the price of sample analysis. Broadcast seeding in late winter, or frost seeding, is a widely used strategy to bolster pasture productivity or add new species to the forage mix. Though not as reliable as seeding with a drill, frost seeding has still been proven as effective and budget friendly. Its success is contingent upon freeze-thaw cycles that enhance seed-soil contact.

Pasture fields, unlike many annual crop fields, are typically comprised of multiple species of grasses, legumes, and forbs.

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Either way, pasture growth will usually translate to livestock gain when properly managed. The month of December is a great time to plan. We still have the opportunity to make changes to the year and plan for When I think of , especially as it relates to forages, two things come to mind for me. First, what worked and what went wrong? Next, is there anything that can be done to improve the operation for this and next year? What worked and what went wrong? Perhaps most buyers and sellers of hay already think this is being done, but Weiss takes it to another level.

Do you have leftover fair goats, or inherited some that did not make weight at the fair? Perhaps your kids or grandkids have been bugging you for the small ruminant animal for some time. Or by chance, did you come into a small herd recently? Improving your pasture management skills will grow more forage that will have higher quality that will better feed your livestock and make you more money.

A better pasture should just keep getting better year after year including; improving the environment; improving the soil, water, air, plants, and animals as well as reducing your energy requirements. Healthy soils can grow healthy plants that can allow animals to grow quicker, stronger and healthier, which will reduce the cost of production. Although this information has been posted in the past, as harvest has come and gone, this opportunity may serve as a viable option for those looking for a cheap feed source to graze the mature ewe flock on.

This strategy allows farmers to optimize on losses associated with harvest as well as serve as a means to save on winter feedings. While multispecies grazing may seem like a no-brainer from an economic and sustainability standpoint, these benefits do not always come easily. The added care and management of an additional species is only one added hassle associated with this profitable, yet challenging undertaking. Cook asked successful land managers what they most struggle with and then compiled a list of top challenges for multispecies grazing. Fencing Producers looking to add sheep or goats to a traditionally cattle-grazed pasture will most likely require reinforced fencing.

Cook notes that while producers with the typical five-wire barbwire fencing will struggle to contain smaller ruminants, they can easily be upgraded by adding new strands of hot wire. Planned paddocks, good fencing, improved forages, grazing management, pasture fertility, and livestock genetics are all important elements when maximizing a grazing system. Water distribution, however, is arguably one of the most important elements of pasture-based livestock systems. In southern and eastern Ohio, spring systems are the most often developed water sources. Springs can provide adequate, low-cost, low-maintenance water systems.

Water quality and quantity are major considerations when developing a spring. Regardless of livestock species, it is important to test your forages. When in doubt, test them out! Across most of Ohio, has been a challenging crop year, especially for those in the hay production business. In , while most producers did not have significant yields, quality was tremendous due to the dry weather which allowed for highly manageable cutting intervals and easy dry down.

Forages and Pasture | OSU Sheep Team

Since the end of June, however, has been just the opposite, with mother nature forcing many bales to be made at higher than optimal moisture levels, and cutting intervals measured in months rather than days. With adequate moisture throughout most of the state for much of the summer, this equates to substantial yields, which in turn for the beef producer, means hay is readily available at reasonable prices.

As cold weather approaches, livestock owners who feed forages need to keep in mind certain dangers of feeding forages after frost events. Several forage species can be extremely toxic soon after a frost because they contain compounds called cyanogenic glucosides that are converted quickly to prussic acid i. Some legumes species have an increased risk of causing bloat when grazed after a frost. In this article I discuss each of these risks and precautions we can take to avoid them. In Ohio it is possible to graze year round.

Of course grazing in winter does take planning. Summer is the best time to plan for fall and winter grazing. Because many of our options have tasks associated with them in summer. By planning ahead it is possible in Ohio to have adequate quality, grazable forage for most of the winter. Depending on the class of livestock and their stage of production it is possible to need to feed for weeks in winter as opposed to months.

For those that are interested in the basics of parasitic resistance and a quick overview of how to manage parasites on-farm, view the video below. This is a great resource for all producers raising grazing livestock. Grazing management during the months of September and October directly impacts the vigor and growth of pasture in the spring. Although seed production is one way that a perennial plant can survive from year to year, in pastures the more important way that plants survive is through re-growth from buds located at the crown of the plant.

After clipping pastures throughout the growing season and managing pasture rotations to insure that plants are not overgrazed and that there is enough rest period between grazing passes, it can be tempting in the fall to let grazing management slide. There is fall crop harvest and a number of other fall tasks to get done before winter. Can the implementation of growth promotants or forage grazed finishing diets increase lean muscle gain in lambs without increasing carcass fat? Marketing lambs at a high lean to fat carcass ratio is important in producing consistent and quality retail lamb products.

Lambs fed high concentrate diets finish at a younger age when compared to forage fed lambs. However, lambs fed high concentrate diets accumulate more carcass fat than lambs on grazed forage diets. Recent storms downed many trees throughout Ohio and some of these pose a threat to livestock. Poisoning is most common when grazing is scarce, such as periods of dry weather coupled with thunderstorms that down trees during the mid to late summer months. As I have driven around the county the past few weeks, I have noticed some patches of poison hemlock on roadside banks and also in some fields.

This is a concern because all parts of this plant including leaves, stems and roots are poisonous when ingested. This is a good time to scout both hay fields and pastures for this weed and take steps to control it. This is not a weed that livestock owners can afford to ignore. Poison hemlock has an appearance similar to wild carrot and is a member of the parsley family. The plant has compound leaves made up of multiple leaflets that are finely divided and have a triangular shape.

Some descriptions say the leaf has a lacy appearance. One of the key identifying characteristics is the stem. While most plants are beneficial, some are hazardous to animal and human life. Ohio has about toxic plants and some of these are responsible for deaths of domestic livestock every year. The number of cases of toxicosis plant poisoning in livestock far outweighs those reported for humans. Accurate statistics are not available, but it is estimated that several thousand animals die annually in the U. May through early June is generally a time of good pasture growth and corresponding livestock production.

However, if you are grazing sheep and goats this is the time of year that needs careful consideration in regards to internal parasites, in particular Haemonchus contortus , the barber pole worm. One way to approach this grazing season is to think in terms of risk management. What can be done to reduce or minimize the risk of a heavy parasite infection while sheep and goats graze pastures? Early spring provides us with a window of opportunity to get a new forage stand established.

The actual success in getting that new seeding established depends upon several factors including: soil fertility, species selection, weed control, timing of planting, planting depth, post planting management. As you looked across your pasture and hay fields this past September you may have noticed not only were the surrounding trees turning fall colors, but your red clover and alfalfa were also showing colors of fall? But this is not a color of fall we like to see especially in our red clover and alfalfa. The stems are stringlike, twining, smooth and branching to form dense masses in some fields.

The biggest enemy of pasture based sheep and goat production has got to be internal parasites and especially, Haemonchus contortus, or the barber pole worm. Fall is one of the most crucial time periods for our cool season pastures. The most important activity a livestock producer should be doing to help the pastures survive winter and remain productive next year is to avoid over-grazing.

Why is fall a critical time for our cool season perennial forages? Pasture measurement allows a grazier to determine an estimate of how much forage dry matter DM is available in a pasture paddock. Once forage DM is estimated, then the grazier can figure out how many animals can be grazed in that paddock for a given period of time. This is something that experienced graziers gain an eye for over time with practice. The time of year is quickly approaching when keeping pasture plants in a vegetative state is probably the hardest for forage producers. Managing pasture growth early in the growing season is important to maintain high quality and high quantity forage production throughout the spring, summer and fall.

The experienced grazier knows that how grass pastures are managed in the fall of the year determines what they have to manage in the spring of the year. While we tend to think of fall as bringing an end to pasture growth, it turns out that this is a critical time for the grass plant. In fact, for our perennial grass plants, fall is not so much an end as it is a beginning, or at least laying a foundation for a beginning.

Fall is an excellent time to complete several pasture related tasks. There are activities a livestock producer should be doing to help the pastures survive winter and remain productive next year. The first and most important activity is good grazing management. Specifically, keep animals from overgrazing. Overgrazing in the fall could ruin next years forage production. It is more critical now than any other time of the year. Overgrazing is not caused by having too many animals in a field. Increased fertilizer, fuel, and equipment costs have made stored forages an expensive commodity.

The forage produced in pastures has likewise increased in value. Good pasture management offers the opportunity to lower sheep production costs by utilizing the animal to fertilize and harvest the forage. Often pasture management discussions center around rotational grazing principles. In this article I want to consider another aspect of pasture management. July and August are critical months to control the internal parasite, Haemonchus contortus in pasture based sheep and goat production. Instant hot water in wash-stall, bedded pine flake shavings with mats Large lighted arena, superior footing and full course of jumps.

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