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Discussion on Sloping Pastures - a problem?

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Dove2
Member
Username: dove2

Post Number: 205
Registered: 4-2005
Posted on Monday, Aug 6, 2007 - 7:11 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

I've now been a horse owner (2 horses) for about 3 years now, boarding, and have a strong desire to have a horse property so I can enjoy my horses at home. Even though it's earlier than I had planned (my kids are still in high school, commuting about 20 miles), I found the most beautiful house with a killer view. It would be quite a hike to drive my kids to school every day (two hours one way), but they are on the school bus now for about that length of time). I’ve only got three more years before the youngest graduates. Hopefully, the older one will get her driver’s license next spring (although I’ll worry about that too).

I have come to grips with the fact that, at this stage of my life, I am content with two horses - enough to train and ride without being overwhelmed. My current goal is to keep showing Western Pleasure, do some Judged Pleasure Rides, and enjoy trail riding. Even though I won’t have a riding ring on my property at first, this house is in an equestrian community with 30 miles of groomed trails and a community riding ring. My guess is it would take about 20-25 minutes to ride to the ring, or I’d have to trailer to it.

Unfortunately, the trade off for the killer views is that the layout of the 10 acre lot is not optimal for horses. The property does have an old (cow) barn and silo, with the four 10x12 stalls are in the middle of the barn - no access to the outside and no windows. I thought I might eventually tear this down and put a riding pavillion (open with four foot sides but with a roof) in its place.

My real dilemma is that the layout of the land is such that the pastures are quite sloped. I'd guess there's really only about 3 to 4 acres, in about 3 different fields, but are at about a 15 to 20 degree slope. There is one square almost-acre paddock considerably flatter than the others, however, for times when the slopes might not be safe. My preference is to continue to keep my horses out 24/7 with access to a run-in, although I want stalls for injuries and extreme weather.

Does anyone have any experience with sloping pasture land? Is it dangerous for horses? Slippery when wet? Larger potential for leg injuries? Impossible to keep round baling from rolling?

We would like to put in an offer on this house, but I'm really nervous about the difficulties of the horse side of things. Is it harder to mow/clean/maintain steeply sloping pastures? Even though I can’t rely on it, the current owner says the neighbor would probably allow my horses to graze with the four cattle on the adjoining ten acres in exchange for mowing/maintaining the area and the large pond. That’s a friendlier terrain with a valley floor.

I’m appealing to your experience and unemotional assessment. I realize the final decision is up to me and what I can handle, but your experienced opinions are greatly valued. Any thoughts or suggestions?
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Diane E.
Member
Username: scooter

Post Number: 1188
Registered: 9-2000
Posted on Monday, Aug 6, 2007 - 7:48 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Dove our whole property is a hill! It has it's challenges. We have lived here 4 years now and I think I have it figured out. It DOES get slick in the mud in the dry lot where there is no grass. In the pasture where there is grass they get around fine. When there is ice or freezing rain it also worries me.

I built a good size lean-to with a big paddock...with lime for footing and an auto waterer. When we get that type of weather they get locked in there. They can still move around quite a bit. We got a 4 wheeler for mowing and harrowing...they can climb any hill!

I wouldn't trade my hills for anything, but it does make some things more difficult.
Here is a pic of the horse pasture with the lean/paddock at the top of the hill.
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Dove2
Member
Username: dove2

Post Number: 206
Registered: 4-2005
Posted on Monday, Aug 6, 2007 - 12:12 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Yes, exactly, Diane. Yours looks to be about as steep as the property I'm considering. When you built the lean-to and paddock, did you have to grade it flat, or was the lean-to custom built to account for the slope? Have you had any slope-related injuries? Also, do you find it builds better muscle and balance for the horses, or not? Where or how do you ride?

Sorry for all the questions. It's just such a huge unknown and so different from what I'm accustomed. Also, thanks for the picture. It makes things so much clearer.
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Diane E.
Member
Username: scooter

Post Number: 1189
Registered: 9-2000
Posted on Monday, Aug 6, 2007 - 1:24 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Yes I had a builder do the lean-to, the inside is graded flat. The paddock has a small slope so the water don't sit in it and get icy/muddy. The lean to is 36'x 12' so I can put up gates and make 3 12x12 stalls or just one. I would be lost without this set up. They are probably only locked in around 10 times a year and they seem to enjoy it actually. When the weather is bad I put bedding in there and feed them inside, like a spa day for them. The paddock is 36' long and about 50' wide...plenty of room to move around.

I have NEVER had an injury due to the hills and I think it is good for them. Even in the snow they seem to get around fine....they don't choose to leave the paddock area much in the winter.

We have about 40 acres (all hills) that I can ride and also our neighbors have about 1000 acres I can ride, which is flatter. My horse neighbor has a big outdoor arena I can use, that takes about 5 mins. to ride to. I don't ride much in the winter, but if the urge strikes I ride in the soybean and corn fields that have been picked.

There are days I wish the place was flat, the hills present much more of a challenge, but it is possible. I think it is harder on me then the horses! I think a paddock area is almost nessacary
for your own peace of mind when the weather is foul. It is a hard decision and we thought long and hard about the hills also, but it is working out fine. If you would like more pics of the lean-to/paddock area let me know. Good luck with your decision.
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Dove2
Member
Username: dove2

Post Number: 207
Registered: 4-2005
Posted on Monday, Aug 6, 2007 - 2:11 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Wow, Diane, thank you so very much for your input. It is so valuable to get someone's actual experience. Just so I understand about the lean-to, do you keep the entire 36' area open and just close off three gates when locking them in? Otherwise, do you have the gates off the posts? I can see you've given this much thought and appreciate the opportunity to learn from you. Thanks!
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Diane E.
Member
Username: scooter

Post Number: 1190
Registered: 9-2000
Posted on Monday, Aug 6, 2007 - 4:09 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Dove Yes it is open, I have portable corral gates I put up if I need an individual stall...which isn't often, but it works out great when needed. I take a gate and twine string it to the posts... the inside is 12' foot long so a 12' gate fits perfectly...then one across the front. What I usually do is take and run gates all the way to the paddock fence and that way they have a small run on their stall. The one that has to be stalled is always happy because the other horses are right next to them. Here is a pic of the front.





Here is a pic with the paddock included. The board on the bottom of the lean is to keep the bedding in, otherwise they drag it all over the paddock. VERY important is big gates at both ends, for getting machinery in or when 1 horse is locked in I make a run in the paddock for them and the other horses can go out the other side. I don't have electricity in mine, but on occasion wish I did.



This is the back...see the small walk in gate? BIG mistake, the lawn mower or 4 wheeler won't fit thru it. This will eventually be a bigger gate...but not huge. Probably a 10 footer. the ones on the paddock are 14 footers, I think, they may be 16. I believe the lean to cost around $3800 and we built the paddock for around $600.

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Dove2
Member
Username: dove2

Post Number: 208
Registered: 4-2005
Posted on Monday, Aug 6, 2007 - 7:42 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

What a wonderful job you've done. And your setting is absolutely lovely. Once again, I really appreciate your help and insights. This has been extremely helpful to me.
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Linda Lashley
Member
Username: lhenning

Post Number: 279
Registered: 6-2003
Posted on Wednesday, Aug 8, 2007 - 3:14 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Dove2, there is a good article in this months issue of Horse Illustrated about horsekeeping on small acreage. They talk about ideas people had when they first built vs. changes they later made or wish they had done differently.

I also know of a book by Cherry Hill with the same title. Check it out at this webpage:
http://www.horsekeeping.com/horse_books/Horsekeeping_on_a_Small_Acreage.htm

Good luck,
Linda
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Alden Chamberlain
Member
Username: alden

Post Number: 455
Registered: 9-2002
Posted on Wednesday, Aug 8, 2007 - 3:54 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

One benefit to sloped pastures is the exercise factor. A friend had pastures with a lot more slope than your's, he fed at the bottom and had the water at the top. The horses got a lot more exercise than flatlanders do :-)

The slope will be more of a concern if you're gonna cut hay than just running horses on it. Trying to cut and bale on a steep side hill is unnerving at best.

Good day,
Alden
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Melissa Boschwitz
Member
Username: amara

Post Number: 359
Registered: 7-2000
Posted on Wednesday, Aug 8, 2007 - 4:49 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Linda, any chance you could email me a copy of that article?... i'm in the process of buying 3 acres (with a bit of a slope) and moving my horses home... i have a pretty good idea of how i want it set up, but would love to see that article to see if i can come up with anything better...my current plan is dividing it into 3 separate pastures so i can rotational graze, and having a small "dry lot" where i can get them off pasture for extra feed and when the pastures are too wet...they'll pretty much be out 24/7 tho (in pen or pasture).. no stalls, tho have a sheds that can be converted into a stall should the need arise..
thanks
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Dove2
Member
Username: dove2

Post Number: 209
Registered: 4-2005
Posted on Wednesday, Aug 8, 2007 - 8:42 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Thank you Linda and Alden. I do have Cherry Hill's book. It's a good one, but slopes are not really addressed in it. She does say that a slope of 2 to 6 percent (2 to 6 feet of rise or fall per 100 feet) is ideal.

Melissa, good luck with your land purchase. I've also received a lot of good information through the local county's pasture management seminars. They strongly suggest what you're planning. I like having horses out pretty much 24/7 also. They're much happier.

One good tip, if you haven't already thought of it, is to put the water trough so it's half in two fields, i.e. splits the fence.
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Melissa Boschwitz
Member
Username: amara

Post Number: 360
Registered: 7-2000
Posted on Wednesday, Aug 8, 2007 - 9:51 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

if i can make it work i want my dirt area to connect to all 3 pastures..the horses will have 24/7 access to the dirt lot.. that's where the only shelter will be too i think..(at least for now)... the water trough will be in the dry lot so that way the horses wont be tearing up any grassy areas...(also closer to house for my comfort) .. i've managed large horse farms that were very careful about pasture management so saw a lot of things i liked and didnt like, but this is the first time i'll get to set it up my way, even if its only a mini farm...
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leslie christian
Member
Username: leslie1

Post Number: 172
Registered: 8-2006
Posted on Wednesday, Aug 8, 2007 - 9:58 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

you can also google Cherry Hills webpages. She has alot of articles on horsekeeping.
leslie
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Leilani
Member
Username: leilani

Post Number: 295
Registered: 4-2000
Posted on Thursday, Aug 9, 2007 - 2:34 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Hi All,

I live on an active volcano, so my pastures are really sloped. I have a 4 horse run-in shed on one property and an under the house area on another.

What I like about the sloping is the drainage, and they get a lot of exercise on their own just moving about.

Leilani
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Leilani
Member
Username: leilani

Post Number: 296
Registered: 4-2000
Posted on Thursday, Aug 9, 2007 - 2:41 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Well, after one too many Pinto Gris... I live on an island that has an active volcano - Mauna Kea. Sorry if I misled anyone.

Anyway, sloping has never been a problem. I kinda like loping up a hill... Leilani
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Linda Lashley
Member
Username: lhenning

Post Number: 281
Registered: 6-2003
Posted on Thursday, Aug 9, 2007 - 9:02 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Melissa, I emailed the article. Let me know if you don't receive it or if you cannot open it.

Leilani, my first image was your horses standing on the side of this steep volcano, like the ones we see in pictures! Made sense after you explained. I'll have a glass of that Pinto too, please!

Linda
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Leilani
Member
Username: leilani

Post Number: 300
Registered: 4-2000
Posted on Friday, Aug 10, 2007 - 2:04 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Thanks Linda. Sometimes...
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Dove2
Member
Username: dove2

Post Number: 210
Registered: 4-2005
Posted on Friday, Aug 10, 2007 - 10:50 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Linda, I've looked all through the August issue of Horse Illustrated for the article and can't seem to find it. Would you be kind enough to email the article to me also? Thanks!
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Linda Lashley
Member
Username: lhenning

Post Number: 283
Registered: 6-2003
Posted on Wednesday, Aug 15, 2007 - 2:18 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Dove2, sorry for not seeing this earlier. I am just catching up on HA after a busy weekend. I will send it shortly.

Linda
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Linda Lashley
Member
Username: lhenning

Post Number: 284
Registered: 6-2003
Posted on Wednesday, Aug 15, 2007 - 2:31 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Dove2, I emailed the article but can't tell if it sent properly. Did you receive it?

Linda
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