How many acres of pasture are needed to support a horse?

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Generally, the rule of thumb is 1.5 acres per horse. But this is if the pasture grass is all that the horse eats. If you supplement with hay, you can get down to an acre per horse. Obviously, many people keep horses in less space, but the pasture usually deteriorates because the horses will prefer the grass to the hay until there's no grass left. For best pasturing, it's better to have ample pasture and to also rotate the pastures — that is, they should occasionally have the horses removed and be left alone for a month or two. They should also be fertilized with an equine-safe fertilizer in the spring of each year, and they should be regularly cleaned when occupied by horses. Horse manure is a fertilizer itself, but to use it as one, manure piles must be regularly broken up and spread around. Otherwise, you'll get crop burning and too high a nitrogen concentration where the manure is located and too little where it isn't. Pasture management is a science unto itself and there are lots ... more
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