Creating a dry lot?

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Grace and Millie

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I am hoping someone can give me some ideas for creating a dry paddock. My two minis are very fat and one is cresty and I'm worried about her foundering. They are in a large paddock and they can't keep up with the grass so have an unlimited buffet every time they are turned out. I want to take away the grass but so far I don't have any feasible ideas.

The paddock is 80 X about 200 so very large. They love to run around and play and they will use every inch of it galloping back and forth. For that reason I don't want to lock them into a tiny pen where their days would be spent bored and hungry waiting for their next meal.

The ideas so far are Roundup or salt. Salt is actually worse for the environment than Roundup and will destroy soil forever. Roundup is nasty stuff and I don't want it on my property.

In desperation I spread my manure pile out there hoping to kill the grass but I didn't have enough to completely cover it so that's about to backfire. I know nothing will grow for the first few years if the shavings are thick enough and then the first plants to grow are weeds the horses won't eat. I know this because we flooded one winter and spread our manure pile to make a bridge through the water. That was a few years ago and nothing grew there at first then weeds came. It is the only area in the paddock that doesn't look like it's mowed down to the roots and has to be weed whacked. So that was the thinking behind spreading the manure but I don't have enough to lay it down thick enough.

I could section of an area at the bottom of the paddock but I would have to drag the shelter more than 100 feet and I'm not sure it would survive. It's built for big horses and is 10X20. I would much prefer to find a way for them to have some space, ideally while having tiny amounts of forage just to keep them busy scavenging... Also, my fat cresty mare will take a shock to get to grass and doesn't respect electric fence, so keeping her confined to one end of the paddock isn't a guarantee and if she broke through it would essentially be a free for all full of lush pasture as it would grow quickly if they came off of it.

I would love to hear any ideas people might have... I'm fresh out. I don't know what to do. If it came down to a choice of keeping them confined or using Roundup I'm not even sure which of those crappy options I would take. I'm hoping there are better ones...
 

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Taz

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I was going to suggest making a track around the outside so they would have some grass, access to the shelter and would move all day but if she doesn't stop at electric.......have you tried one of the bull fencers? It keeps the couple I have that will go through electric backed off it. I've been hit by it and it really hurts. How about grazing muzzles? If you really want to get rid of the grass I'd till it. The roots normally only go a few inches deep and you can maybe rent something small to till strips of the paddock so there is some but not as much. Roundup doesn't work so well from my experience.
 

Dragon Hill

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If your don't want to use chemicals you are limited to tilling and physical removal, and/or covering it up. Both will require constant maintenance. Even though it would cost more up front, you might want to consider using cattle panels to make a fence within your fence. With some planning and using metal posts, you could make a track within your paddock that you could change if needed.
Unfortunately, I'm having the same issue with one of my minis and I have resorted to using a grazing muzzle on him and/or limited turn out until I have the time and money to do what I want. His paddock is more weeds than grass but he is an eating machine!
 

Maryann at MiniV

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How about dividing your area up? Leave a small area with grass and maintain/water it, so they can go in for a snack a few hours a week. The other area would be closer to their shelter and you can mow it down very very close to the ground. Do NOT water it. Your little beavers will make their OWN dry lot!
 

Grace and Millie

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I think I'm going to try the track system... I did some reading about it after reading these replies. The electric fence that she goes through is one that I set up for big horses to keep them off the drains we had installed in the paddock. The top wire is way above the minis heads and so it's just the bottom wire keeping them out of that area. That's where she went through but I'm thinking since it was only one strand if I put up a fence with at least three strands that might work. it's at least worth a try since cattle panels are very expensive to do such a large area. It's 560 ft around the outside of the paddock.

Does anybody know what the recommended width for the track is for minis? I want to make it small enough that there's very little grass in there but large enough that they're not going to be uncomfortable or get caught.

Thank you to everyone who responded.

Lisa
 

MindySchroder

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I have a dry lot situation that I turned into a track system :) Mine is smaller than yours but works perfectly for my two (soon to be three!) ponies. I recently wrote a blog post about it, showing how mine is set up complete with measurements! At the end of the blog is a video.

My Tiny Track a Year Later

I also have some older posts about a larger track that I had. That one grew too much grass, even with 6 minis on it so I had to make it smaller, which led to the one above! Let me know if you have any questions after you have a chance to look over the information I shared :)

One thing I'll add is that it's a good idea to vary the width of the track. It doesn't have to be the same all the way around at all. They should have a lounging area, an eating area (that is as far from the water as you can make it) and areas that are narrower to encourage them to move through. This is part of what keeps them moving all the time.
 

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