How Many Acres Do You Need To Own A Horse? (Best solution)

In general, professionals recommend two acres for the first horse and an additional acre for each additional horse (e.g., five acres for four horses). And, of course, more land is always better depending on the foraging quality of your particular property (70% vegetative cover is recommended).

  • How Many Acres Do You Need To Own A Horse? If you are attempting to figure the carrying capacity of land for a horse, then a good rule of thumb is 1-1/2 to 2 acres of open intensely managed land per horse. Two acres, if managed properly, should provide adequate forage in the form of pasture and/or hay ground. Can you keep a horse on 1 acre?

Can you keep a horse on 1 acre?

If you are attempting to figure the carrying capacity of land for a horse, then a good rule of thumb is 1-1/2 to 2 acres of open intensely managed land per horse. Two acres, if managed properly, should provide adequate forage in the form of pasture and/or hay ground.

Can you have a horse on 2.5 acres?

5 horses out in 2.5 acres, no matter how you rotate, are not going to have any grazing and are going to reduce each section to a dirt lot pretty quickly. And 1 bale among 5 horses per day is no where *near* enough forage, it should be 1/2 – 2/3 of a bale per day per horse.

Can you keep 2 horses on 2 acres?

(You may not need as much grazing land if they’ll be eating hay every day.) In general, professionals recommend two acres for the first horse and an additional acre for each additional horse (e.g., five acres for four horses). With excellent management, one horse can live on as little as one mud-free acre.

Can you have 3 horses on 2 acres?

A quick Google search will tell you that 2 acres per horse –or 2 acres for the first horse and another acre for each additional horse–is ideal, but horses are kept on smaller acreage every day.

How many acres of pasture does a horse need?

In general, you need 2 to 4 acres per horse if you want them to be out all the time and not overgraze a pasture. Most farm owners don’t have this much space, but with more intensive grazing management, you can maintain horses on fewer acres and still have great pastures.

Do horses need stables?

Horses don’t need a barn, but having access to one is extremely useful. For example, barns help restrict injured horses’ mobility, control their eating, and separate them from others. Horses are resilient, but they rely on us to provide them with the necessities of life.

How old do horses live?

That means the average horse is about 1 cubic metre. An acre is just over 4000 square meters, so 3 acres is just over 12,000 square meters. So if you would compress each horse into one solid cube of 1x1x1 metre, you could put just over 12,000 horses on 3 acres.

How many hours a day does a horse need to graze?

It is estimated that a horse spends about 10 to 17 hours each day grazing, and this is broken up into about 15 to 20 grazing periods.

How many horses should I have?

Another way of determining how many horses you can keep on your acreage is to estimate 1,000 pounds of horses for every two to three acres of land. This will provide you with adequate space for grazing, turnouts, and proper land management.

How big should a horse paddock be?

There should be at least 600 square feet per horse but paddocks should be less than one acre. Shape – Adjust the shape of the paddock to account for the topography, drainage patterns, availability of land and horse’s requirements, e.g. consider a paddock 20′ x 100′ versus 40′ x 50′.

How much land do I need for a horse? – Extension Horses

Only a little amount of study has been conducted on the space needs of horses. It is recommended that you allow 1-1/2 to 2 acres of open intensively maintained land per horse if you are seeking to determine the carrying capacity of land for horses. The feed provided by two acres should be sufficient in the form of pasture and/or hay ground, assuming the land is maintained appropriately. However, this is very varied depending on where you live. If you are primarily reliant on the land for exercise rather than nutritional requirements (for example, if your horse receives hay every day), a smaller area may be sufficient.

In the Eastern portions of the nation, on well maintained pasture, 2 acres will provide enough food for a horse’s nutritional requirements.

In the Midwest region of the United States, 2-10 acres of well maintained and, in some cases, irrigated pasture may provide sufficient food for a horse’s nutritional requirements.

Dryland pastures that are not irrigated can provide up to 30-38 acres per horse for the overall fodder requirements of the animal.

It goes without saying that many individuals keep horses on smaller parcels of property and do not rely on the land to provide them with any fodder.

How Many Horses Per Acre? 5 Things To Consider

What is the normal number of acres per horse? This is a question I receive frequently, and sadly, there is no easy solution. Horses are kept on fewer acreages every day, according to a fast Google search, which suggests that 2 acres per horse–or 2 acres for the first horse and another acre for each succeeding horse–is the perfect amount of space. In order to determine the appropriate amount of acreage for each horse, whether you are seeking to purchase an existing farm or considering adding a few more horses to your herd, there are several elements to take into consideration.


Do your horses live outside or do they spend the most of their time in a barn? If you intend to keep your horses outside, be prepared for pasture wear and tear, and seek to provide more land per horse than you now have. Smaller acreage need more intensive management, and you will find yourself moving horses about, keep them inside when the pastures are wet, and seed the fields more regularly as a result. It is crucial to remember that the optimal time to seed pastures is in the late winter/early spring, and that this may be a time-consuming and expensive undertaking because it can take years for grass to get established, particularly if there are horses on the pasture.

Many farmers use woodchips to keep the ground around their gates and fence lines from becoming muddy and washing away. However, bedding from unclean stalls may perform just as well and is far less expensive than using woodchips.


Horses have been a part of my life in Maryland, Florida, and Wisconsin. When it comes to pasture upkeep, where you live makes a significant difference in what you may anticipate. It is true that the grass in Maryland and Wisconsin has a high nutritional content to the point where simple keepers may require little to no extra feed or hay for most of the year; nevertheless, these places also receive a significant amount of precipitation. If you want to keep your horses in smaller paddocks, there will be a significant amount of mud regardless of how often they are turned out.

It’s a different story when it comes to keeping horses in South Florida.

Florida receives a lot of rain each year as well, but the pastures do not deteriorate in the same manner as they do in other states.

In the case of those of you who have easy keepers, Florida may be a very affordable area to keep your horses.


When it comes to easy keepers. There are a handful of breeds that are capable of gaining weight simply by gazing at greenery. There are times when I feel sorry for these horses. I am also aware that there are outliers in any breed, so the age of the dog and the individual will have an impact on your choice. Horses that are simple to maintain tend to fare better on smaller parcels of land. Quarter horses, ponies, and draft breeds are included in this category as a whole. Although Thoroughbreds and older horses are not typically featured on the list of easy keepers (yeah, you knew it was coming), they are sometimes included.


When it comes to horse care, there is no doubt that huge farms demand a significant amount of time and effort. However, smaller estates may require just as much effort. The ability to keep horses out on big pastures where you don’t have to worry about stalling them, overgrazing the pasture, or supplementing their meals may save you a lot of time and effort. Outbuildings, weeds, and fence lines will all need to be maintained, but your horses will require far less attention than these. This is a fantastic alternative for those of you who have horses who suffer from gastrointestinal disorders as well as those of you who work during the daytime.


First and foremost, you must determine how much money you have available to spend on a home purchase. Many farm purchasers discover that USDA loans provide them lower interest rates than other types of financing. It is also necessary to crunch the figures for hay, feed, bedding, sowing, and the overall upkeep of the land in order to make informed decisions. As you would expect, smaller acreage may be less expensive up front, but the upkeep fees associated with the amount of wear and tear horses will do on the land will rapidly add up.

  • When you consider the size and orientation of the home, barn, and other structures, some properties may be more user-friendly than others when it comes to accessibility.
  • The quantity of land allocated to each horse is established on an individual case-by-case basis.
  • You should also consider interviewing realtors that have expertise with equestrian or agricultural properties if you want to purchase a property.
  • In your opinion, how many horses per acre is the appropriate number in your area?

In addition to her work with buyers and sellers in Bethesda, Maryland, she also works with buyers and sellers in Palm Beach County, Florida. Visit her website and look through the search results to uncover useful blog entries.

How Much Land Per Horse?

Horse farm owners should establish the carrying capacity of their land before deciding how many horses may be kept on the property. Arnd Bronkhorst Photography is a professional photographer based in the Netherlands. There is a wide range in the quantity of land required for an equestrian enterprise to maintain each horse. Significant elements in calculating how much acreage will be required include the intended usage of the horses as well as the master horse-keeping plan for the stable and the surrounding neighborhood.

  1. Our editors choose the links that appear on this page.
  2. A per-acre technique has traditionally been used to estimate the amount of land required.
  3. If you have more than one horse, it is sometimes recommended that you set aside two acres for the first one and one more acre for each new horse to avoid overgrazing the pastures.
  4. Running a horse farm or facility is difficult labor, and you shouldn’t get into it without doing your research.
  5. According to her, “we propose that stable owners take into consideration what they are doing with their horses as well as the carrying capacity of the land.” When determining how much land is required per horse, it is important to consider the carrying capacity and usage of the land.
  6. These include general pasture management, pasture rotation, manure management, stream and pond buffering, and other best-management techniques that may help the ecosystem remain healthy for both horses and people to live in and thrive in.

Pasture for Forage

Equine grazing is a natural way for them to satisfy their nutritional requirements on a daily basis. Grazing may be a cost-effective and nutritious means of supplying nutrients and fiber to livestock. In order to give enough nourishment to horses, barns that rely on turnout to offer fodder as part of a horse’s ration will inevitably require greater land to do so. A decent rule of thumb is to keep at least 50% of the land covered in vegetation and no more than 50% of the land exposed to the elements.

  1. The greater the number of grazing possibilities available to a horse, the more discriminating he will become in terms of what he eats and what he leaves behind.
  2. At the start of the season, your pasture grass should be between 6″ and 8″ tall, depending on the species.
  3. Even though pasture is the primary source of food in some barns, others use paddocks for exercise purposes alone, rather than for nutritional requirements.
  4. Non-grazing lots have the potential to be smaller, allowing for a higher stocking density to be achieved.
  5. Those horses can maintain the same level of health as horses galloping on a 40-acre field, and their nutritional requirements may be met with feed, vitamins, and hay, among other things.
  6. They are used for a variety of purposes.
  7. In smaller turnout pens, it’s vital to remove dung on a regular basis to avoid a buildup that might attract flies or cause an odor, both of which are undesirable.
  8. Other barns prefer to keep horses in stalls unless they are being exercised regularly, according to the owner.

In each of these cases, determining the amount of land required only on the basis of nutritional and exercise requirements does not take into consideration other considerations, such as the community’s zoning rules and best management techniques, which are important considerations.

Best-Management Practices

As previously stated, an alternate approach to the number of horses per acre technique is to take into account the carrying capacity of the land and the purpose of the area in question. According to O’Meara, this approach necessitates greater deliberation and a thorough grasp of local zoning rules and storm water management plans than the previous model. It also contains a more comprehensive stable management plan, which incorporates practices like as pasture rotation, manure management, stream and pond buffering, among other things.

  • The closeness of a piece of property to developed neighborhoods increases the likelihood that zoning regulations and ordinances will contain limits regulating the number of horses that can be maintained on the parcel of land.
  • It appears to be a lot of effort, but it is well worth it.” It is possible that even horse-friendly areas will not be horse-friendly if there are no horses in the neighborhood at the time of your visit.
  • Although horse enthusiasts believe horses are attractive, not everyone shares this opinion.
  • They differ from one town to the next and can address issues such as stocking density, environmental planning, and the number of horses that can be kept on the land.
  • For example, a hamlet on Long Island, New York, near O’Meara’s boyhood home, is designated for horses on properties of one acre or more in size.
  • However, this is only applicable if the land has previously been used to house horses.
  • Of a similar vein, the laws in this community state that the horses on the property must be owned by a family member who resides on the land.

In fact, keeping a horse for a friend is not permitted since it is deemed a business activity and as such is not covered by the zoning regulations in place.

The acreage of stables that exceed the maximum allowed by the community’s ordinance are generally considered agricultural land and are therefore subject to right-to-farm laws, according to her explanation.

Farm villages are being displaced by suburban development in various areas of the country.

Consider surrounding land plots and whether or not other farms are for sale, since this might indicate an approaching development project while looking for a new place to live.

It is also important for stable owners to be aware of environmental rules that are specified in a community’s storm water management plan.

According to her, “they may include fence setbacks from streams to prevent horses from going in and churning up the water,” as well as infiltration basins and other features.

How Many Horses Are Too Many?

That is dependent on the situation. There are a plethora of possible responses to this question. First and foremost, from a purely economic sense, if you are straining to provide enough food for all of the horses, there are far too many of them. A barn’s number of horses should be evaluated honestly, as should the number of lesson clients and training horses it has. When monthly board, lesson clients, and training horses are barely covering operating expenses, leaving little cash for “extras,” it’s time to consider selling some of the horses.

  • When you’re unable to provide adequate care for all of your horses, it’s time to consider selling them.
  • When it comes to barn-owned horses, it can be a tough decision to make.
  • Furthermore, no sale is ever required to be final.
  • In a similar vein, there may come a moment when you have an excessive number of client-owned horses to care for.
  • However, investing in barn staff or reducing the number of boarding customers may be necessary in order to provide acceptable care for all of the horses on the property.
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Take-Home Message

Every stable is unique in terms of how it relies on pasture for nutrition and turnout, and each one has its own methods of doing so. The purpose of a new piece of property, or the expansion of the present amount of land that the stable possesses, must be determined before the purchase or expansion of land is completed. Also worth investigating are municipal zoning rules and environmental impact plans, which may be found on the internet. If you’d want to learn more about land use planning for horse facilities, check out the relevant materials available at

How Much Land Do I Need for a Horse? (2022 Guide)

The horse is one of the largest domesticated animals we have, and it requires a lot of area. These enormous beasts, which may weigh more than 1,000 pounds and tower more than six feet tall, are colossal and intimidating. They have long legs and a lot of muscle, therefore they need to be trained on a regular basis to maintain their shape. Furthermore, horses consume enormous amounts of plant matter, which necessitates the provision of large tracts of land. But what is the exact amount of land that is required to keep a horse healthy and happy?

To tell the truth, it is dependent on a number of circumstances, which we will examine more in this post. It’s hoped that at the conclusion of this article, you’ll have a clear notion of how much space your horses require, based on your individual situation.

Land For Grazing Versus Space for Exercise

Your land requirements will be substantially different depending on whether you intend to allow your horse to forage on your property or if you intend to supply it with plenty of hay. If you’re providing your horse with hay, the area it need is mostly for exercise and grazing. If, on the other hand, you want for your horse to obtain the majority of its feed by grazing, you’ll need plenty of land that has been properly maintained to ensure that there is always enough food available. Everything above means that horses who graze will want more area that is better managed than a horse that merely requires land to be ridden on for exercise.

Land Requirements for Grazing Horses

A minimum of two acres is required for your horse to be able to graze in the pasture and expect it to provide the majority of its feed. That is not to argue that a horse will not be able to survive in a smaller setting. If you know how to manage your property well, a horse may survive on as little as an acre of foraging space. Horses, on the other hand, are ravenous feeders. A horse may easily consume 20 pounds of hay in a single day, and over the course of a year, one horse will consume around 27 acres of hay or pasture.

Also take into consideration that certain locations may have terrain that is more or less suitable for grazing than others.

If you live in a very lush region, on the other hand, your horses may not require as much room since they will be able to extract more feed from each acre.

Multiple Horses – More Space

Of course, for a single horse, a two-acre minimum is a good starting place to work from. Every new horse will necessitate the purchase of additional land. Your first horse required two acres, but each new horse should be able to survive on just one extra acre of space. You could wish to supply two horses with a minimum of three acres, and four horses with a minimum of five acres, if your herd consists of four horses. Consider the following: Where Did Horses Come From and How Did They Become Domesticated?

Land Management

It is not enough to just have acreage for your horses. That property will require active management if you want it to stay green, productive, and able to meet the demands of your horses in the long run. Overgrazing is a big source of worry since it might result in a lifeless field filled with muck instead of vibrant grass. An excessive number of weeds might result in runoff that contains polluted water because they prevent the earth from adequately absorbing and draining as it should.

In some cases, a pile of manure can result in restricted grazing space and generally bad circumstances. Avoiding these problems necessitates daily effort and extensive planning ahead of time. Credits for the image: Bildagentur Zoonar GmbH and Shutterstock

Space Requirements for Exercise

When it comes to exercise, horses require surprisingly little space in order to maintain their health and obtain enough of physical activity. Area used for exercise does not need the same level of attention to detail as land that will be grazed. In reality, there is no requirement for any grass to be present on this site. Just 400 square feet of area for one horse to exercise is all that is required, which is a square 20 feet across each way. Although having more room is always beneficial, your horse may be happy and healthy with just 400 square feet.

Keep in mind that adding more horses will demand a larger exercise space, unless they are kept in the exercise lot at separate times of the day or night.

So, if two horses are housed together, they will require an area of 800 square feet of room.

Legal Requirements in Your Jurisdiction

Many excellent suggestions and regulations have been addressed, all of which should be followed to ensure that your horses are healthy, happy and receiving appropriate nutrition. If you follow these criteria, your horse should have enough of space for grazing and exercise. However, you must also consider whether or not it is allowed to have horses in the area where you reside. Some states and towns have standards that must be satisfied in terms of the amount of space that each horse is allowed to have.

You don’t want to spend months or years planning and building a barn and pasture for your horse just to discover that it does not comply with municipal standards!


The quantity of acreage your horse requires is determined by a number of factors. To allow your horse to graze in the pasture, you’ll need to offer at least two acres of well-managed land for a single horse, as well as an extra acre for each subsequent horse. However, if you simply want to feed your horses hay and only require space for them to exercise, you may get away with 400 square feet per horse in most cases. Prior to beginning any arrangements, however, make sure you are aware of the applicable regulations in your area and that you are remaining within the legal boundaries of your current location!

The author, Dean, is a lifelong outdoorsman who spends most of his time travelling around the different terrain of the southwestern United States with his canine partner, Gohan, who is his closest buddy.

Among Dean’s many loves, studying is one of the closest to his heart. He is an excellent researcher and reader, and he enjoys delving into fascinating subjects such as history, economics, relationships, pets, politics, and a variety of other subjects.

How Many Acres Do You Need for a Horse?

So you want to maintain a horse but aren’t sure if you have enough space to do so on your property? This is something that is frequently difficult to determine, especially when there are so many variables to take into consideration. Consider that factors such as the number of horses you intend to keep and how they will be fed will have a significant impact on the amount of land you require. Obviously, you don’t need a 10-acre plot if you’re only maintaining one horse that will be fed hay every day, but in order to get the greatest results, you need to know how many acres you’ll need for your horses.

The Bitter Truth About Keeping Horses

A good rule of thumb to remember while feeding your horse is that the average horse may go through up to 30 acres of pasture or an equivalent quantity of hay in a single year, depending on how much hay you feed them. As a result, regardless of the size of your property, you should be able to fulfill the nutritional requirements of your horse. Sure, keeping a horse on your own property may be enjoyable and fulfilling, and it may also present tremendous commercial prospects; nevertheless, you must plan properly, have some equestrian expertise, and conduct much study before embarking on this journey.

How Much Land Do You Need to Keep a Horse?

Unfortunately, there is no definitive answer to the question of how much land you should have to grow a horse, because, as previously said, there are a variety of elements that must be taken into consideration (which we will discuss in the next section). Experts, on the other hand, advocate at least 2 acres for the first horse and one additional acre for each additional horse after that. In addition, with such a large quantity of land, you will be able to experiment with various pasture management strategies without running the danger of overgrazing.

If you intend to feed your horse primarily from pasture, you will require a bigger amount of land.

Also, the vegetation should be 8 to 10 inches tall, free of weeds, and not completely bitten to the ground before being used.

A good amount of space for horses to wander about freely for a few hours each day is sufficient; more space is not always better for horses.

Factors to Consider When Determining How Much Acreage Your Horse Needs

When deciding whether or not to raise horses, there are a few factors to consider in order to ensure that the animals live happily ever after. The following are the three most significant:

1. Pasture Management

Is it more likely that your horses will spend the most of their time in a barn or on the pasture? If they want to live outside, anticipate the pastures to become worn out rapidly, and consider purchasing additional land. Smaller parcels of land will need more intensive maintenance and management. For example, you will need to move the animals throughout the pastures on a regular basis, lock them in the stable when the fields become muddy, and seed the pastures often. When it comes to seeding, late winter and early spring are the greatest periods to get your fields ready for planting.

That is why purchasing a larger piece of land might be a wise decision. That way, when you seed one portion of the field, you may always have an extra piece available for your horses to graze in while they are waiting for their food to mature.

2. Quality of Land

Another essential consideration is the amount of feed that can be produced on the property for your horses. For example, if you live in a dry region that is frequently subjected to draught, the quality of the soil may not be sufficient to maintain the vegetation that is required to feed your horses. In that situation, you will want to purchase a larger parcel of land so that the animals may have a larger area to roam about on in search of food. Furthermore, as previously said, accounting for a larger amount of land helps to avoid overgrazing, which can assist to prevent the condition of the land from deteriorating any further.

3. Number of Horses

Do you want to retain a single horse or an entire herd of horses? The way you respond to this question will help you determine how much land you will require. As previously said, your first horse should have at least 2 acres of land, and you should add an additional acre to the land for every other horse you bring onto the property. To put it another way, if you want to rear four horses, you should aim for a plot of ground that is anywhere between five and eight acres in size. People who have horses, on the other hand, usually always end up with more horses, so if you have the money, purchase additional pasture.

The Problem With Keeping Horses On Small Acreage

While experts prefer that horses be kept on a bigger piece of land, horses may still flourish on a smaller amount of ground. However, there are several obstacles that come with this strategy, including but not limited to:


Overgrazing is likely the most difficult problem to deal with when rearing equines on a tiny piece of ground, and it is mainly caused by overstocking. If you are growing 10 horses on a 2-acre plot of land, it goes without saying that the animals will consume the grass until it is so short that it dies out. Not only will the outcome be unsightly pastures, but there will also be significant soil erosion. It is likely that rainwater would wash over the hard, compacted soils, sweeping away manure, sediments, and nutrients.


Often, we attribute mud paddling to bad weather, but the fact is that it has less to do with the quantity of rain that falls and more to do with where the precipitation flows after it has struck the ground. When you have a tiny piece of land, it might be difficult to construct a functional drainage system, which can result in rainfall collecting all over the place. In addition, when dirt accumulates near feeders, water troughs, gates, and other high-traffic locations, these areas will rapidly turn into muddy mires.

Besides the fact that it causes bacterial illnesses in the feet of horses, it also makes them more prone to slipping due to the fact that it makes them slippery.

Piles of Manure

Approximately 40 to 45 pounds of manure are produced by the average horse every day. In most cases, if you are keeping your horse on a small piece of land, you will not have enough room to accommodate the ever-growing pile of manure. Furthermore, a huge manure pile will not only be ugly, but it may also serve as a breeding ground for strongyles, roundworms, and other parasites if it is not decomposed properly. In addition, as the weather becomes hot, the manure will attract all kinds of bugs and insects, and when it rains, it will release toxins that will seep into the ground and surface waterways in the surrounding area.

Your compost pile will be more effective if it is put up on a bigger piece of land, and it will be easier to manage if it is on a larger piece of ground.

Hay Storage

Approximately 40 to 45 pounds of manure are produced by the average horse each day. In most cases, if you are keeping your horse on a small piece of land, you will not have enough room to accommodate the constantly growing pile of manure. It is also possible that a huge manure pile will not only be ugly, but it may also serve as a breeding ground for parasites such as strongyles and roundworms. In addition, as the weather becomes hot, the manure will attract all kinds of pests and insects, and when it rains, it will release toxins that will seep into the ground and surface waterways in the immediate vicinity.

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How Do You Know You Are Keeping Too Many Horses?

This is a question that has a plethora of possible responses. As a starting point, let us consider the economic implications of the situation. If you find yourself continuously straining to purchase food for all of your horses, it is likely that you have too many, and you should consider selling some of them to make room. The overgrazing of pastures and the overstretching of available resources are two more indicators. In such a situation, you may want to consider selling some of the animals or purchasing extra property.

The Takeaway

When it comes to horse ownership, each individual will have a strategy for how many horses they want to maintain and how they want to feed those horses. Aim for a larger plot of land if you want the finest outcomes. In addition to providing ample grazing space for the horses, this will allow you to provide appropriate amenities to keep them comfortable.

Limited land? No Problem!

The ideal horse farm may be a large ranch with fields that stretch as far as the eye can see, with the most serious horsekeeping concern being how to check all of those miles of fences before dusk, but this is not often the case. However, the truth is frequently quite different. Those of us who have horses on a tiny piece of land understand how difficult it may be. Grazing pastures that are overgrazed, turnouts that are too tiny—these are just a few of the difficulties you may encounter if you have a small amount of property.

  1. Don’t be concerned; you’re in excellent company.
  2. It makes logic; the greater the density of the human population, the less room there is for huge animals such as horses to graze and breed.
  3. It is prospering at the moment.
  4. Nothing, not even a shortage of open space, seemed to be able to dissuade us from continuing to maintain horses.
  5. Horses, on the other hand, are versatile and do well on little parcels of land, despite the difficulties.
  6. “Overgrazing, as well as manure management and water runoff, are major concerns.
  7. ” At the very least, a well-managed farm will have lush, verdant pastures during the warm months of the year.

If you conceive of your tiny farm as a living organism, you’ll be able to see how all of its elements are interconnected.

If you ignore one of these, you may encounter problems that will have an impact on his overall well-being.

Nonpoint source contamination can include fertilizer, pesticides, sediment, and fecal waste, to name a few examples.

Many governments have established rules for small farm management to assist horse owners in their endeavors.

Furthermore, as a result of a newly approved state Water Quality Bill, the AAPs are now considered mandatory agricultural practices.

Consider it free mentorship; after all, what’s good for the environment is also good for our horses, so why not combine the two?

When you take a glance around your tiny farm, you’re likely to notice at least one or two items that may need some attention. These techniques will assist you in overcoming the difficulties associated with maintaining horses on tiny parcels of land.


When asked to name our most difficult horsekeeping difficulty, the vast majority of us would most likely give the same response: the ever-growing dung mound. For example, “a average 1,000-pound horse generates roughly 40 pounds of manure every day,” according to Greene. The horse’s bedding, which may add an extra 15 to 20 pounds of material to the equation if he spends any time in a stall, is another consideration. It’s not difficult to understand why the manure pile looms so huge. And that dung mound is more than simply a sight; it is a health hazard.

  • During the summer months, it will attract flies and other pests to the area.
  • What you can do is put it in the compost.
  • That’s compost, which may be used as a fertilizer or to improve the overall quality of the soil.
  • It’s not as difficult as you may assume.
  • To put it simply, “enough air movement, moisture retention and the appropriate temperatures must be present to allow bacteria to transform static heaps into completed compost.” Make your manure pile roughly twice as long at its base as it is tall in order to decompose it properly.
  • It is possible to purchase a compost thermometer at most garden centers or nurseries.
  • The following three components are required for a good compost pile:
  • Air. Pests, earthworms, and hardworking bacteria transform manure into beneficial fertilizer for the soil. Aerobic creatures require oxygen in order to survive. You can count on them to demolish your pile in a couple of weeks since they are good people. Even if you don’t have access to a tractor, getting air into the manure pile doesn’t have to be a time-consuming task. Toss the pile once a week using a pitchfork if the size of the mound allows it. If you have access to a tractor, rotating it is much more advantageous. If neither of these options are available, insert two or three perforated PVC pipes (about five feet in length) into the compost pile instead. They’ll serve as chimneys, allowing air to circulate throughout the pile. In the event that your compost pile isn’t appropriately aerated, it will generate an unpleasant stench that smells similar to rotten eggs. That’s an indication of anaerobic decomposition, which is breakdown caused by organisms that flourish in the absence of oxygen. In addition to emitting methane gas, which is a significant contribution to global warming, the anaerobic condition produces material that is unsuitable for use as fertilizer, according to the World Resources Institute. Anaerobic organisms do not exert as much effort. Currently, the manure is still decomposing, but it might take years, and in the meantime, it is a source of pollution.
  • Moisture. Moisture is essential for the optimal microbial activity in your compost pile. You should aim for a moisture level ranging from 40 to 60%. In contrast, if the pile is very wet, the additional moisture will compress the pile, preventing it from undergoing beneficial aerobic decomposition. For moisture testing, take a handful of material and squeeze it. It should feel damp, but not leaking, and have the consistency of a sponge. During the rainy season, if the pile becomes too swollen, consider covering it with atarp. If the soil is too dry, you may need to apply more water. If that’s the case, simply mist it down with a garden hose as you spin it
  • Having the proper carbon to nitrogen ratio. The optimal carbon-to-carbon ratio is between 25:1 and 30:1, with carbon being the greater number in this equation. Maintaining a 500:1 carbon to nitrogen ratio in wood shavings is important to remember since too much shavings in the compost will cause things to move more slowly than they otherwise would. Attempt to keep wood shavings out of the pile, but if they do manage to get in, you may re-balance the ratio by adding more nitrogen-rich materials to the pile, such as extra horse dung, blood meal, grass clippings, or chicken manure.

To learn more about composting, Coleman recommends that farmers connect with their local extension agent, who may offer simple instructions on how to prepare a space for composting, ignite the pile, and manage it. Generally speaking, says Coleman, “the ordinary horse owner can compost their horses’ excrement with little difficulty.” At the end of the process, you will have a useful and precious resource that you can use to feed the plants and grasses on your farm. If composting isn’t an option on your property, consider hiring a private hauler to come on a weekly or monthly basis and remove your waste.


On a tiny farm, we can’t afford to overlook the muck. Mud is a breeding ground for parasites and germs, and flies find it enticing. It is also a sloppy and ugly mess. Of course, we blame the weather for the mud, but the problem isn’t so much how much rain falls as it is where the water travels when it hits the ground and becomes mud.

It is quite easy to create a muddy bog if water collects around heavy traffic places like as gate openings, feeders, and watering troughs. There is nothing you can do to stop the rain from falling, but there is something you can do to divert it.

  • A tiny farm cannot afford to overlook muck. The presence of parasites and bacteria in mud encourages the reproduction of bacteria, and flies find it appealing. Mud is also unpleasant and a source of contamination. As is customary in this country, we blame bad weather for creating mud. However, the issue is not so much how much rain falls as it is about where it goes once it strikes the ground. Whenever water collects around heavy traffic locations like as gates, feeders, and watering troughs, it will rapidly turn into a muddy bog. You cannot stop the rain from pouring, but you may guide it in a different direction.
  • Install swales, berms, or a French drain to divert water away from the house. Essentially, they function in the same manner as gutters on roofed structures do, transporting water safely away from paddocks, fields arenas, and down drives
  • And
  • Construct a catch basin or culvert to alleviate the problem of low places. If you have a wetland or pond where rainfall collects, consider having a contractor create a catch basin to collect the water and drain it away through underground pipes to prevent flooding. It is normally adequate for agricultural usage to have a basin that is two by two or three by three feet in size, and while it may appear to be a costly repair, the benefits of having a dry property greatly exceed the expense.
  • Renovate locations that receive a lot of traffic or are excessively compacted. Greene recounts his experiences at the University of Vermont’s horse facility, which led to his success. In paddocks where horses tended to gather, high traffic areas were encrusted in muck, which became more pronounced in the spring. According to Greene, the project involved replacing eight inches of compacted topsoil with a layer of geotextile filter fabric, four inches of huge stone (1 1/2 inch to 1 3/4 inch in size), which was covered by another layer of fabric, and finally four inches of filthy pea stone on the uppermost layer. Water was able to flow below the compacted top surface and into a slightly inclined PVC pipe buried under the traffic lane, where it was directed to a grass buffer and an existing French drain, thanks to the stone sandwich that was produced. The project was a resounding success, and


It is a rare little acreage that is capable of meeting the nutritional requirements of all of its horses; yet, it is more than probable that they will require extra high-quality hay. Even tiny pastures, however, may provide valuable grazing time for livestock for at least a portion of the year. The University of Wisconsin’s Dan Undersander argues that overgrazing and under-fertilization are the most typical problems on small acreages. “The most common difficulty on small acreages,” says Undersander, is overgrazing and inadequate fertilization.

  • Rainwater can flow down the surface of hard, compacted soils, transporting sediments and manure to ground and surface waterways.
  • However, even on a little piece of land, it is feasible to produce a healthy and nutritious pasture if you follow a few easy guidelines.
  • “One of the most common mistakes made on a small area horse farm is overstocking.” says the author.
  • However, having too few horses to keep up with the pasture is another issue.
  • This is when the weeds take over,” she says.
  • Every three to five years, take a sample of the soil. The samples should be taken from a variety of locations, but they should avoid regions that are outliers, such as areas along the road, sandy areas or badly eroded parts, advises Undersander. In order to find an average level of soil fertility throughout the field,” says the expert. Using the soil sample, you may determine which minerals your pasture need. The phosphorus content of many old, overgrazed horse pastures is inadequate.
  • Eliminate the presence of serious weed concerns. In established horse pastures, perennial broadleaf weeds are the most prevalent problem, but recognizing the weeds on your land will help you get them under control. Even if you can’t completely eradicate weeds from your pasture, Undersander suggests attacking every area of thistle or weeds that measures two by three feet or more by mowing it often or applying a herbicide. “If you choose the latter option, make sure to follow the product’s directions to the letter, both for the sake of the environment and the health of your horses,” Undersander advises. “One to two sprays of herbicide should be sufficient to control the situation.”
  • Fertilize according to the results of your soil sample. Grass, like your horse, demands an unique level of attention and nutrition. “The fertility of the soil is quite significant,” adds Undersander. “Once you understand what your soil is lacking, you can provide it with the nutrients it need.” If you increase or decrease the number of horses on your property, alter your feed or supplement program, or even just increase the amount of grain you give your horses, the minerals excreted in their dung may change. According on the findings of another soil test, you may need to re-fertilize your garden.”
  • Selecting the appropriate seed for your climate and soil conditions is essential. This changes based on where you reside and the soil conditions in which you are working. The fertility of the soil, drainage concerns, acidity, climatic hardiness, and appropriateness for horses are all factors to consider while selecting seed. Your county extension office can assist you in selecting vigorous grasses that will thrive in your location. Make certain you seed at the appropriate time of year for the seed variety.
  • Grazing should be done in a rotation. In the words of Undersander, “grazing horses on smaller, numerous pastures boosts fodder production without affecting the stocking rate.” The pastures may need to be’rested’ for two to three weeks during the hot, dry summer months.
  • Overseeding should be done in the fall. While soil temperatures are still warm, use a rotary spreader to broadcast or overseed your crops in the fall. When it comes to overseeding, the fall is an excellent time of year since the days are still sunny, the rainfall is plentiful, and the weeds are ready to go dormant.


Exercise improves the health of all of your horse’s systems. His hooves, digestive system, lungs, joints and even skin all benefit from being able to move around more frequently. However, living on a tiny area with limited turnout may make moving about a difficult task. What you can do: When it comes to designing turnouts, think outside the box.

  • You may modify the arrangement of paddocks on a regular basis by using temporary fence. A perimeter track within a paddock is used by some small farms to encourage horses to be more active by providing them with greater space. Horses are urged to continue moving forward by distributing feed and water at numerous “stations” along the track, even though the actual distance traveled is limited by the track. To make things more exciting, you may add different surfaces to the track, such as sand in sunny locations for lying down and relaxing, pea gravel for improved hoof quality, or little log jumps to keep things interesting. In some ways, it’s similar to creating a playscape for your horse
  • Turnout will be easier if there are in-and-outs off the barn. You can allow your horses to come inside to get out of the weather even if you are not present
  • Make use of run-in sheds in the paddocks or fields, and incorporate them into the fence-line to ensure that they do not encroach on paddock area.
  • Increase the number of hay bales on the property. Horses like meandering from grazing place to grazing spot when grazing. Increasing the number of piles—or slow-feeder hay nets—at various sites throughout the field will encourage them to roam more freely. Place the water trough a long distance away from any piles, and the horses will be forced to walk to come to the water.
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One of the most difficult issues following turnout is determining where to put the hay. The ideal situation, according to Greene, is to purchase the entire amount of hay required for the year or season. This manner, you may evaluate the hay and customize the horses’ diets to meet their specific requirements, such as pasture ornaments vs broodmares or competitive show horses.” Another advantage of purchasing hay in quantity is the uniformity of the product. The sudden or severe changes in our horses’ diets, even if they are fed hay, might induce intestinal discomfort or laminitis, according to Greene.

What you can do is educate yourself on the proper methods of purchasing and storing hay.

  • Find a dependable hay provider and inquire as to whether you will be able to pay a storage charge in his barn. In many cases, the hay provider is content to sell the hay up front and then supply it on a regular basis.
  • Use caution while storing any hay you do have
  • Hay should be stored in a leakproof facility with proper ventilation.
  • Slow feeders may be used in stalls and paddocks to reduce hay consumption and help you get the most out of your hay budget.
  • Even if you are unable to purchase hay in huge amounts, make arrangements for frequent supplies. “Horse owners must be able to rely on a consistent supply of hay for their animals,” adds Coleman. The fact that you may only purchase in little quantities might provide a barrier because it means that your feeding regimen will alter with each load. Collaborate with an established and reliable hay provider that will allow you to purchase hay in increments over time, with the possibility of storage on their farm. On a small farm, consistency in hay and nutrition is even more crucial since there may not be enough pasture to give all of the nutrients your horses may require.”

Each of us wishes we could afford to own that fabled 1,000-acre property. The good news is that, with a little more effort, we can reap all of the benefits of a large farm on our modest acreages.

Not only will we be delighted with the way our farm looks, but our horses (as well as our neighbors) will be grateful to us as well. The original version of this essay appeared in EQUUS issue460, published in January 2016.

How Many Horses Should You Have Per Acre? Reference Guide

Posted at 8:30 a.m. hinHealth,Horse Care,Horse Training Horses who are happy and healthy thrive in an environment where they have plenty of space to wander. Even horses who spend the most of their time in stables require sufficient area for turnout and grazing. Is there a limit to how much acreage you require to raise horses? This is a question that equestrians have been arguing for ages, and it is still relevant today. So, how many horses should you keep on an acre of land? Horse experts have always recommended between one and two acres of land for the first horse, with an extra acre for every new horse after that.

In addition to following the standard recommendations, there are a variety of other considerations to take into consideration when considering how much land to allocate for your horse’s pasture.

For the sake of this essay, we shall examine the typical way of determining the carrying capacity of land for horses.

We hope that this knowledge will enable you to give better effective care for your equine friends as a result of this information.

Traditional Approach to Carrying Capacity of Land for Horses

The carrying capacity of land for horses has been a source of heated debate among equestrians and horse owners for many years. Many horses are healthy and content with small plots of land, despite the fact that we know that horses generally thrive on larger tracts of land. Previously, we indicated that the majority of equestrians advised a minimum of one to two acres of property for your first horse. They urge that you add an extra acre to your property for every new horse. This quantity of area, on the other hand, may not be essential for smaller horses.

This will allow you to have enough room for grazing, turnouts, and good land management without having to purchase more acreage.

It is possible to effectively keep your horse on a lesser amount of land with correct care and control, fortunately.

Things to Consider When Determining How Much Land You Need

In recent years, as acreage restrictions have been imposed across the country, equestrians have attempted to better understand the requirements of horses when it comes to land use and management.

Whether you want to keep your own horses or want to start a boarding barn and stable, there are a few considerations to keep in mind when evaluating how much property you truly need for your operation.

Is the Land for Exercise or Nutritional Needs?

As an equestrian, you are well aware of the diverse requirements of horses in different situations. If you’re trying to figure out how much land you’ll need for your horse, this is perhaps the most significant factor to consider. What will be done with the land? Your horse’s nutritional needs will be met mostly by the land or will it be supplemented by other sources. What method do you want to use to exercise your horse? Are you intending on participating in planned forms of exercise every day, or are you counting on turnouts to keep you active?

If, on the other hand, the property is largely used for recreational purposes, the amount of land is less significant than the way the area is laid up.

Local Zoning Ordinances

What is the horse-friendliness of the location where you intend to keep your horses? In certain parts of the nation, zoning rules and restrictions on how near horses can be kept to other people’s houses or water sources are in effect. You must investigate these zoning rules since they may need you to acquire extra property in order to meet your requirements.

Quality of Land to Support Horses

While the ground in some parts of the nation is great for rearing horses, other portions of the country, particularly those that are prone to drought, may not be as suitable. When determining how many horses your area can sustain, it is critical to consider the condition of your soil. If your property is less fertile or of lower quality, you may need to plan for more area to accommodate your horses’ requirements.

Pasture ManagementRotation Plan

What is your plan for pasture management and rotation? What is your timetable? Increased pasture area will allow for more latitude in pasture management and rotation, which will result in better pasture quality. If, on the other hand, your horses are kept on a small plot of ground, you will need to pay close attention to how you care for the soil.

What Breed Are Your Horses?

Because, as you are probably aware, not all horse breeds are created equal! While certain horse breeds do well in smaller pastures, other horse breeds require significantly more room in order to be happy and healthy in their environments. Research the specific needs of the breed you are wanting to place your horses in before settling on a location. For those wishing to acquire land for horse boarding, it is preferable to overestimate the amount of land that will be required per horse when calculating the quantity of land to purchase.

Challenges of Keeping Horses On Limited Acreage

While it is true that horses can survive and prosper on small parcels of land in practically every region of the country, there are certain difficulties associated with this strategy. In order to retain your horse on a little piece of land, you must be prepared to face the obstacles that come with it head on.

Overgrazed Pastures

Surprisingly, overgrazing is one of the most difficult aspects of managing horses on a small piece of land. It is impossible for your horses to reap the full advantages of their pasture time if there is not enough room for them to graze comfortably. As a result, it is usually preferable to supply your horses with extra acreage rather than attempting to squeeze an additional horse into your area. Your horses may always be fed hay and grain if their pasture isn’t growing enough grass to keep up with their need for nutrition.

It has the potential to supply your horse with nutritional content that is comparable to that of fresh grass. For additional information on giving hay to your horses, please see my articleHow to Tell If Your Hay Is Bad: An Essential Horse Hay Guide.

Manure Piles

Any equestrian will be quick to recognize the difficulties associated with manure mounds. The fact that you have to maintain horses on a smaller piece of land means that you will have less area to store your ever-growing pile of manure. Having a huge manure pile on a tiny plot of land might not only be an eyesore for you and your neighbors, but it can also serve as an ideal breeding ground for parasitic insects, flies, and other pests. In addition, rains will cause toxins in your manure pile to leach into the ground when it runs off.

Unsightly Mud Puddles

Mud puddles are another regular source of aggravation for horse owners all around the country. Because the piece of land is smaller, there are fewer possibilities to skirt around mud puddles and other obstacles. This encourages both humans and horses to go through mud puddles, tracking muck and filth around your property as a result of the situation.

Limited Opportunities for Exercise

The last problem of maintaining horses on a small piece of land is that there are few possibilities for them to get out and exercise. Horses do not have the opportunity to exercise at their leisure when they have a smaller turnout space. As a result, you will need to spend more of your daily time to deliberate activities and opportunities for physical activity.

Tips for Keeping Horses On Limited Acreage

Equestrians are a tenacious and obstinate set of people. For the most part, we’ll figure out a way to make practically any arrangement work for both us and our horses. What could be better than being able to keep your horse in the comfort of your own backyard? If you have determined that your land is sufficient to maintain your horse, there are several suggestions that might make this arrangement more beneficial for both people and horses.

Fertilize and Rotate Pastures for Adequate Grazing

One of the most effective strategies to fight overgrazing is to test and fertilize your pastures on a regular basis. Thus, soil quality will be maximized, allowing the pasture to flourish and flourishing. Investing in temporary fence will also allow you to cycle the pastures you are currently using. However, despite the fact that it may seem paradoxical, research has shown that letting your horse to graze in a smaller pasture that is cycled on a regular basis can maximize the productivity of your pastures.

Try Composting Manure to Eliminate Large Piles

Are you becoming increasingly dissatisfied with the continually expanding manure mound behind your home? Composting is a good idea! When it comes to managing enormous mounds of manure, composting is an excellent option since it produces natural fertilizer for your pastures. Check that your manure pile is twice as long at its base as it is high before you start composting the manure pile. It is because of this structure that the manure is able to attain the optimal temperature for efficient composting.

Composting will need a little extra effort on your part since you must ensure that the correct conditions are maintained. Although it is the most inefficient method of managing enormous manure piles on small areas of land, it is the most effective and efficient one.

Redesign Your Land to Accommodate for Proper Drainage

As previously said, big mud puddles generated by rain are one of the most annoying aspects of running a small farm. This is not, however, something to which you should just submit yourself! Improve the drainage on your property by redesigning it to allow for appropriate drainage after a rain. Consider the installation of culverts or french drains to allow water to swiftly drain away from high-traffic areas of your property. Also consider remodeling your farm to elevate high-traffic areas by combining elevation, gravel, and other drainage solutions with a variety of different kinds of drainage.

Get Creative When Designing Turnouts for Exercise

In addition to allowing for pasture rotation, temporary fencing allows you to come up with innovative solutions for turnouts! – Create a track within your paddock that will stimulate movement and exercise for your horses. Placeing hay and water stations at regular intervals along the track will encourage your horses to work their way through it. If you are keeping your horses on a small piece of land, you will need to prioritize deliberate exercise in addition to regular turnouts. While riding is generally the most convenient way to ensure that your horse remains active, there are a range of other things that you can incorporate into your horse’s daily routine to keep him entertained.

In Conclusion

Ultimately, the facts are straightforward: horses require adequate room. Despite the fact that conventional guidelines suggest that each horse requires between one and two acres of space, we now know that horses can live on considerably smaller parcels of ground. Horses may flourish on a little amount of land for personal use if their owners are willing to think outside the box and come up with inventive solutions to problems. However, if you are looking to start a boarding barn and stable, it is ideal to allow for more land than is really necessary because this will appeal to horse owners who are looking to board their horses.

This will save you a lot of worry and frustration in the long run.

Although it may seem perfect to keep your horse outside your back door, it is possible that this is not the best place for them to thrive in.

If you are unsure whether your property is suitable for your horse, you should get a second opinion from an expert equestrian to find out. Providing your horse with appropriate grazing and exercise area helps ensure that they remain happy and healthy for the foreseeable future.

Related Questions

Do larger horses need the purchase of more land? Yes! It goes without saying that the larger your horse is, the more space they will require. Horses that are larger in stature not only take up more physical space, but they also require more nutrition on a daily basis. As a result, if you own a huge horse breed, you will need to offer them with more space than is normally advised. Generally speaking, most experts recommend a minimum of two to three acres of ground for every 1,000 pounds of horse.

Horses in the wild rely on a diet that is mostly comprised of the grasses that they eat to survive.

The majority of horse owners supplement their horse’s diet with hay, grains, or other supplements to compensate for this.

See my articleHow to Care For A Horse: The Ultimate Guide For Beginners for a comprehensive overview of horse-care techniques.

Remember to pin this article to your “Horse Care” Pinterest board!

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