Caring for a horse means also caring for the environment you provide him with. We share nature, specifically watersheds that are crucial to our survival, with our family, neighbours, and the animals we’re lucky enough to co-exist with. As a horse owner, it’s our responsibility to protect that environment through choices that leave a low impact footprint.
The following are a few steps to eco-friendly horse keeping that will positively impact your environment as well as make for good, neighbourly practices.
Manure Management System
The quality of water in your local water bodies–and subsequently your drinking water–is affected by everyone living in the vicinity. This includes your horse! Minimize contamination by regularly picking up manure in high traffic areas and stables, and stockpiling it away from ditches and other water bodies. Next, consider composting the manure to reuse in your pastures. Not only will it enrich your soil, but you will minimize waste; literally.
Sacrifice Paddocks for Land Management
Fencing off a “spare” paddock or sacrifice area not only prevents overgrazed pastures, but also helps manage manure. Create the sacrifice area on higher ground (in other words, away from ditches and water bodies) to avoid water contamination and filter any potential runoff by planting a grassy border. By covering the sacrifice area with coarse-washed sand or crushed rock, mud won’t be as much of an issue during winter months and manure removal will be easier.
Pasture Management For Vitality
Rotating your horse in cross fence pastures prevents overgrazing of your fields and soil compaction that inhibits water infiltration for root growth. By leaving your horse in one field all the time, the quality and quantity of available grass will be significantly reduced in favour of weeds, and the nitrogen runoff from manure and urine can lead to contaminated water. Low pasture productivity also increases your feed costs!
Managing Water Flow
Divert clean rainwater away from high traffic areas by ensuring the roofs on your barn, sheds, and outbuildings are properly outfitted with rain gutters and runoff systems. Not only does this reduce mud, but the amount of nutrients and sediments that could potentially be washed into surface waters.
Protect your watershed, and ultimately your community through eco-friendly horse keeping! Are there any methods you’ve devised to keep your stables eye-catching and watershed-friendly? Share with us on Facebook!