Turnout time is crucial to a horse’s mental and physical well-being, but it is also an opportunity for accidents and injury to occur. Minimize your horse’s risk of hurting himself while he’s on pasture by taking the following precautions:
• Remove hazards. Inspect your pasture fences, as well as any structures in the space, for sprung nails, loose boards, drooping wire and other potential hazards and remedy them immediately. Remember to look below and above your own eye level.
• Improve footing. Ground in high-traffic areas---near gates and troughs or other places horses congregate--- can become slick or deep in wet weather, making missteps and soft-tissue injury more likely. Reinforce these areas with gravel and/or a geotextile fabric.
• Evict hole-diggers. Craters made by gophers, groundhogs and other wildlife can be hazardous. A motivated dog can rid a pasture of an unwanted digger, but you can also call in a professional pest-removal service to do the job. Once the critter is gone, fill the hole with soil and tamp it down securely.
• Allocate enough resources. Horses jockeying for access to a single hay feeder or water trough will quarrel, which can lead to kick injuries. Divide hay between multiple locations in the field and consider adding a second water trough. If you feed grain to horses in the field, dole out rations into buckets spaced at least 20 yards apart. If that’s not enough to keep the peace, be prepared to remove a bully or the lowest-ranking herd member at mealtimes.
Originally published in EQUUS 490