What is Your Horse Trying to Tell You?
Ever wonder what your horse would tell you if it could talk? With help from Dr. Ben Dixon, DVM, we have some answers as to what your horse may want you to know.
“We care about the taste!”
Dr. Dixon explained that “horses can be selective on what they graze and palatability should be considered when selecting grasses for your pasture.” This means horses will eat the tastier plants first, such as the young soft grasses, while leaving the less palatable plants alone. Horses are also particular not to graze where they defecate. These factors often leads to overgrazing in certain areas of your pasture.
To help prevent this overgrazing, horse pasture forages need to be productive all season long. They also need to be highly palatable to ensure even grazing throughout the pasture. Grasses should be aggressive and able to tolerant close, heavy grazing.
The University of Minnesota Extension recommends endophyte-free tall fescue, perennial ryegrass, Kentucky bluegrass, and timothy grasses as highly desirable. According to Dr. Dixon, other grasses to consider would be meadow and smooth bromegrass, annual ryegrass, or orchardgrass. In the South, warm-season bermudagrass pastures are the most popular.
“We need vitamins too!”
Growing horses, pregnant and lactating mares, breeding stallions, and higher performance horses will need higher energy feeds supplemented in order to meet their needs, but forage should still remain the base.
Dr. Dixon shared that the use of legumes is one easy way to increase the energy and protein available in pasture mixes. “Legumes can also complement grasses by increasing pasture yield and help control weeds. Alfalfa and clover are the most common legume crops added to mixed grass pastures or used as hay to supplement grass pastures” he explained.
You can calculate the nutrition your horse feed needs by using the National Research Council’s Nutrient Requirements of Horses (Sixth Revised Edition 2007) calculator.
“Our favorite things are…”
Access to water, shelter, and care are all things that will help create a happy environment for your horse. “Water is the most important nutrient for horses, they’ll drink 5-15 gallons a day depending on temperature, activity, and diet. Ideally, clean water should be available at all times, and for larger pastures, in multiple spots. Providing a sturdy shelter that allows horses to get out of the sun or harsh weather is important and can be accomplished many different ways,” Dr. Dixon taught.
Last but not least, companionship! Your horse wants to spend time with you!
How Nature’s Seed Can Help?
Pasture can be an excellent source of feed, exercise, and socialization for most horses if managed properly. Pasture management factors to keep in mind include:
Keep in mind that overstocking pastures may harm forage quality because of overgrazing and trampling. According to Dr. Dixon, it may take from 1-3 acres per horse (more in times of drought) to fully meet the needs of a mature horse, depending on pasture yield.
Here at Nature’s Seed, we've taken these factors into consideration and developed our regional horse pasture seed blends. Each horse grass seed blend contains a mix of several high-quality grass species, as well as a proper percentage of legumes to keep your horse happy, healthy and ready for your next adventure together.
Our team of rangeland experts have designed a horse pasture seed mix for every region of the United States. The following considerations were made during the design process for each regional blend:
*A big thank you to Dr. Ben Dixon for being willing to share with us a veterinarian’s stance on what makes a happy horse. Please make sure to consult with a veterinarian for any horses with special needs before choosing your pasture seed.*