…get out of the sun!
While most of my human friends can enjoy the air conditioning on a hot and humid day, I seek the shade of a tree or run-in shed to keep cool. This heat is tough on any horse, and since I’m (a little) older than most, I have to be especially careful to be sure I’m consuming enough calories to keep my body functioning and maintain a healthy body weight. Some horses may lose as much as 7 to 10 percent of body weight in sweat per hour in extreme temperatures. That’s about 9-10 gallons of horse sweat…gross! Dr. Malinowski keeps my diet high in calories by increasing my grain, adding corn oil to my feed, and feeding me a wide variety of…doughnuts!
You know I have an affection for confections, but I think I’m speaking for all horses when I say that there’s nothing more satisfying than waking up early on a summer morning to find the pasture lush and glistening with dew drops…and then grabbing mouthfuls at a time like I’ve never eaten grass before in my life! The best way to ensure lush pastures for grazing in the summer is through careful maintenance throughout the year. The most effective way to do this is through “rotational grazing”. No, this doesn’t mean grazing in a circle! This just means rotating the paddocks where horses are turned out in order to prevent over grazing and allow the pasture a chance to grow. This way, when summer “rolls around” the grass will be thick, green, and delicious (not to mention nutritious)!
Another way to ensure your fields are ready for the summertime is to set up a “sacrifice area” horses can be turned out over the fall, winter, and spring without concern for over grazing. A sacrifice area, as well as the rotational grazing method, provides area where grass will have an opportunity to grow undisturbed. For more information on pasture management, visit http://www.esc.rutgers.edu/rlp/rlpmain.htm where you can play games, read articles, and take a virtual tour of the Ryders Lane Farm! If you don’t mind getting a little dirty, stop by the Ryders Lane Farm at the Rutgers New Brunswick Campus and see the best management practices in person…and maybe make some new equine friends as well!