The first key to small pasture management is realizing that you’ve got a small pasture. I’ve got five horses on little over an acre and a quarter of grass. It’s tall fescue – but pasture blend; the lawn blend will cause mares to throw their colts too early they say. I only let the horses on the grass in late spring and summer for small amounts of time, and in fall and winter when the grass is dead and the ground is frozen.
In spring, I divide the pasture into 7 slices, and I let the horses out for a limited time each day, a week for each slice. Honestly, they stay fat on one hour in the early spring—any longer and you risk founder on lush grass. The time gets longer as the summer wears on and the grass ages, till the fall, when they are out all day, and I begin to open the pastures up so that in late October, the horses have the run of the whole place.
Dividing the pastures up allows each slice a rest period. i start with seven, but the smaller slices toward the back of my place really can’t sustain the horses for a full week after the first grazing in April. So I take the back three and make two out of them after that first graze. That allows each other slice five weeks’ rest and growth. My grass stays long and strong all summer that way.
When we first got the place, Guy was worried that our acre would simply turn to mud with the five guys on it. But the way I do it, I don’t have that problem at all. Works out very nicely. The trouble is, you have to have access for them to water from each slice, so there’s some design that has to go into the set up. Still, it’s nice to see one acre work so hard so successfully.