Keeping horses on *small* acreage

Discussion in 'Horse Chat' started by Allkian, Nov 3, 2018.

  1. Allkian

    Allkian Senior Member

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    I know this has been asked before. I’ve spent the last few days scouring the internet for ideas. But I wanted to post just to see if any new innovations are out there.

    I’m on the verge of acquiring a small acreage. I have 5 horses that used to run on 11 acres but life happened (divorce) and I’m being forced to downsize for at least the next few years. The property I’m looking at is only 2.5 acres. Eek!

    However as a west coast native, I have seen creative horse keeping on less.

    Luckily the soil here is naturally sandy and grass grows well if seeded and fertilized. That said, my horses will have round bales 24/7 no matter what.

    My idea is to split the acreage in to at least 4 parcels. I haven’t gotten the survey back to know exactly dimensions but the property is long and thin, not square.

    I know I need to be diligent in rotations and I know I need a sacrifice area. I am thinking of doubling the sacrifice area as a riding area as well, if possible.

    The good news is this property is less than a mile to a state park with loads of trails so my horses will get lots of activity. I just want to be sure their time spent at home is managed to prevent mud as much as possible and keep them happy. That and there is over 100 acres of coastal grass directly beside me so I’m *hoping* when I’m a bit more financially stable I can offer to buy some acreage from that land owner. Fingers crossed!!

    Thanks for any input! I’m a visual person so even a crude drawing in paint will help in addition to explanation.
     
  2. kb1gra

    kb1gra Senior Member

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    Make sure it's legal, first. Zoning here requires 1/2 acre allocated to the house and 1 acre per head after that, so 5 horses could not be kept on 2.5 acres without a zoning violation.
     
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  3. Allkian

    Allkian Senior Member

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    Yes that is where I started. Confirmed via county zoning and deed restrictions. :)
     
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  4. slc

    slc Senior Member

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    If it's legal there, it won't be possible to maintain grass for long there with 5 horses. You've been through way too much already, but if funds have been downsized too, maybe it would help if you could sell 2 or 3 of the horses.

    I know what I'd say - 'no.' I'd try to keep them all too.
     
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2018
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  5. foxtrot

    foxtrot Senior Member

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    I only have 3 minis and they have 2 acres of grass--they only are allowed on it about 30 min to an hour a day and they decimate it. I can't imagine you'd be able to keep grass with 5 horses. But, if you're fine with your property being a dry lot and feeding hay for 100% of their roughage then it's likely doable, if not ideal.

    Personally I'd keep looking for at least 4-5 acres, but I know that's easier said than done.
     
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  6. Allkian

    Allkian Senior Member

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    Yeah. Definitely not ideal. I’m at the point I’m having to get help even to finance this property. So at this point, either they’re moving with me or they’ll be boarded in much smaller space locally. Which economically is even less feasible.

    At this point, this is where I’m going. I’ve reached out to neighboring properties to talk about leasing or buying more land. But just was hoping to get some ideas from anyone that may have been in a similar situation and how it was arranged.

    The property is not 2.5 acres. That is the usable pasture land. The property itself is over 3 acres. Just wanted to clarify. :)

    Thanks again.
     
  7. slc

    slc Senior Member

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    I don't think 2.5 acres will do it for five horses in California. The grass won't survive. I'd plan on buying a lot of hay.

    I'm sorry you're in this fix. The financial benefit in divorce usually goes to the lawyers.
     
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  8. PyroTekNik333

    PyroTekNik333 Senior Member

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    I've got 4 on 2acres right now.
    Thats about 2 more than I would like but you try turning down a 7 year old horse crazy girl that just wants to ride :p

    I have one that founders so she is dry lotted 24/7 and one that is a fatty mcfatterson so he is dry lotted most of the day as well.
    I have 3 pastures besides the dry lot that I rotate. They do ok but a hardy and quick growing grass is mandatory (I have tall fescue and clover planted) I have to be meticulous about manure cleanup and they are hard on fences being in a smaller area so that is some added cost to think about.

    I do feed hay year round as well.
     
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  9. Allkian

    Allkian Senior Member

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    Thanks y’all. I guess I should clarify. I’m not planning to have good grass. I’ll be feeding hay free choice with rounds. I’m just trying to come up with a way to structure the paddocks so the whole thing doesn’t get turned to mud. I am thinking of having a small sacrifice area with a shelter, then 2-3 paddocks for turnout. 2 of my horses realistically will be dry lotted year round. I just want to try to keep the property as seemly as possible.

    Divorce is so ugly.

    I actually kept the horses on 2.5 acres last year and it went quite well. 3 paddocks and 4 stalls. The pasture was always quite sparse but with round bales all year and throwing alfalfa in the winter the horses did just fine. But that was a rental. Mud was an issue. As was fencing. Hence my thought on maybe a similar design but relying on a sacrifice area for my easy keepers and for bad weather days.

    Only time will tell. The neighbor has discussed maybe letting me lease 8 acres. And the other bordering property may be an option to buy additional acreage once I get on my feet.

    This has been so difficult. I went fron an 11 acre ranch with an arena and huge barn and tractor and truck and nice trailer to nothing but my horses. It took me a year just to get another truck and a small trailer. But in that time my horses never wanted for anything. I just can’t fathom losing them because of this short term hiccup. Once the divorce is final I should have the financial freedoms to save for bigger property. Just have to get there.

    Sorry went off on a tangent there. :) Thanks again.
     
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  10. ginster

    ginster Senior Member

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    Can you post a layout of the acreage you have? Maybe it´s just me but being able to look at something makes planning easier...
    Huge kudos to you for managing to keep all the horses and getting "back on track".
     
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