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Exercise Lots

September 2, 2009

A lot of horse owners do not have enough pasture to keep their horses happy for a whole year. Many times the horses are put on pastures that just aren’t suitable because there is no other place for them. The best way to protect the horse and the pasture is to install an exercise lot, also known as a heavy use area (HUA). HUAs can be very simple or very “fancy”. HUA’s should be located on higher ground to aid in drainage and prevent water from running onto the lot. Also locating it on higher ground will allow for any run-off from the lot to be filtered correctly. Use a well drained all waether surface to prevent pooling of water. When installing a HUA, you want to make sure to size it for the appropriate number of horses. A horse needs a 16X16 sq ft area. When designing an HUA, if you just want it as a lofting area 16X16 is perfect. But if you want this area more for exercise it is recommended to make it atleast 100ft long to allow for running. There should be a permanent fence around the perimeter and the HUA should have its own water source. If you plan to feed horses on the HUA, elevate the feeder to prevent ingestion of the footing material. The simple type involves compacted subsoil, a piece of geotextile filter fabric, gravel, and fine crushed stone. The “fancy” type can be anything one could imagine, but a lot are concrete with a runoff/drainage collection system and a roofed area. It is recommended to install a vegetative buffer strip around the HUA to aid in the filtering of the nutrient rich run-off. Try to remove the manure weekly, especially before rain or snow events.

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