As horse owners we know from first hand that paddocks can become uneven over the winter months with hoof marks and general disturbance. Timing is crucial, as rolling on wet ground or heavy clay can cause compaction which can impact negatively on drainage and grass growth. Rolling can also trample grass crowns which will encourage fresh grass growth and in turn suppress weeds, also a light rolling after seeding will help seed to soil contact and improve germination.
HARROWING: Traditionally, harrowing would be used to spread droppings on the pasture for natural fertiliser. This should be carried out in spring/ early summer ideally dry warm conditions, harrowing pulls up dead grass allowing space for fresh healthy grass to come through, It can also break up ground allowing better drainage.
It is recommended to top fields every now and then (once every couple of years or more if preferred but not too frequently as this can damage grass root system), this will maintain the good quality of fields, topping is an excellent way of preventing weeds going to seed and proliferating. Reduces old stemny grass, keeps grass at height for grazing which is particularly important for horses and ponies. Horses must not be allowed to graze on the paddock until grass has completely dried out or been removed.
WEED CONTROL: Weeds are undesirable plants that grow where they are not wanted. Weeds and poisonous plants thrive on poor pasture. Poisonous plants must be removed immediately before your horse grazes. Spraying with SAFE pesticides is a highly effective part of paddock maintenance, we use only SAFE products. DOCK, NETTLE, THISTLE, BUTTERCUP, DANDELION or dreaded RAGWORT, sometimes pesticides is the best way of dealing with certain weeds. All our weed spraying is undertaken on quad bikes for smaller areas which require precision spraying we would use knapsack. The important thing to remember is we work with you!
Your Paddocks are under constant pressure, spending time on them can guarantee a healthy happy horse, taking the pressure and worry of you. Essential maintenance of your fields can help prevent poor conditions with poached deep mud and excess water, the use of mechanical equipment can be more expensive but cost effective in the long term. Poorly managed paddocks provide insufficient feed with low or none nutritional value. Paddocks that have been left unattended still need topping otherwise they become choked with weeds such as nettles, docks even ragwort.
ADVANTAGES OF PADDOCK MAINTENANCE
Horses are very selective eaters and will not make the most of their paddocks, leaving certain areas to become over grown and rough allowing weeds to take hold. Horses constantly in fields put a lot of pressure on grass keeping it maintained, harrowing, rolling, topping and fertilising gives it the strength to recover quickly.
Rolling is essential to keeping paddocks flat and free from ruts, therefore the risk of lost shoes and lameness is reduced.
Topping will control weeds in paddocks not being used therefore, ensuring weed control. We appreciate that not everyone has acres of land to rotate making it more essential to practice safe paddock management.