How bad does the field have to be before you stop turning out??


Jul 3, 2007
I have been having some issues with the state of my field since the begining of winter and now it is in almost too bad a state to even turn out the horses.

Basically, i let a woman keep her horse and shetland on our fields last summer with my two (also horse and a shetland) i only have 2 acres but have another 2 acres growing which should be ready to lightly graze later in the year. I knew that it was going to put a lot of strain on the fields this winter with 4 animals on such little land but thought that if we could just get through the winter they would recover enough for the spring /summer like they always do.
We are on clay and have terrible trouble with the mud every year but i have never known it as bad as this before, its like a slurry, the horses just stand there in the mud waiting to come in. The ponies can get on a small concrete yard to get out of it but the horses cant.

Now i have the dilema of either keeping them all out and risk the fields never recovering enough for spring/summer (normally i rotate my horses and rest the other field through the grazing period)
Or stable them 24/7 which i have never done before and dont really want to because i wont have time to ride EVERY single day and this woman certainly wont because she never rides anyway.

Im so stressed out with all this (amongst other things too) i would be grateful
for any input:wink: Thanks
I would definitely restrict access to the field over winter. I used to keep mine in when it was wet or frosty (but was lucky to have a cattle shed/yard combo, so they had plenty of space to move around in). If they are just standing by the gate waiting to come in, then fence off a smaller area there (electric tape etc is very cheap to set up) and then at least the rest of the field can rest until spring.

Put down used bedding (straw, shavings or easibed is brill), hardcore/stone if you can and ensure the area is free-draining.

Ali xx


New Member
Aug 15, 2002
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Are they stabled at all at the moment or out 24/7? If the latter, then why not try just stabling over night to try and save the grass a bit more. That's a bit better that going straight for stabled 24/7.

How is your field/stable set out? Are they actually in your field with a hard standing at all? If so, then you could shut them in the hard standing area with free acess to and from the stables to give the field a break for most of the day or night?

Kis Vihar

Nutty Saddlers !
Ours have 25 acres so we don't get too much of a problem...until this year. :( We were flooded all summer, now are having an awful winter. Their turnout is either:

a) frozen floodwater
b) frozen floodwater with snow over the top
c) poached mud up to their knees
d) poached knee-deep mud which has FROZEN into evil hard uneven lethal ground. :(

Our 6 horses are now living in our sand jumping arena (about 2 acres) with a round bale of hay every 5 days. :( They are in at night, from midnight until 7.30am.

It's awful.

If I were you, I'd try and get the horses off the field for a while, but I appreciate, it's not going to be easy. :( An alternative is to try and have a big area of straw or something down, for them to stand on, and put hay on there.

I sympathise.


Well-Known Member
Jul 16, 2003
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have you only got the one field? is there any way you could split it? you could split the 2 acres into two smaller paddocks and keep them in one half for a bit to allow the other half to recover? 1 acre isnt enough for 2 horses and two ponies but should be ok for a bit esp if you hayed them as well?


Active Member
Dec 30, 2006
I don't know your situation but last year we had the same where I lady on the yard took it upon herself to keep moving more and more horses on without the prior permission of the YOs. So thet winter field got completely trashed.

The horses were moved off onto the summer grazing at the start of the growing season and the winter field was harrowed reseeded and rolled. The horses were suposed to be kept off then to allow it to take over summer and then moved back on over winter again.

I'm on clay and allow my 2 access to much much of my land as I can in the view that it is better to have the whole lot lightly worn rather than a small portion trashed and need reseeding. If I didn't have enough land to achieve this then I would secion of a sacrificial bit to trash and just have that reseeded.

My ramble probably doesn't help and I really feel for you, it's not easy being on clay is it.


Jul 3, 2007
Thanks for all your advice
It is actually two one acre fields but it is so bad at the gateways that its difficult to walk through without losing a welly:frown:

Unfortunately it is that bad that if i were to put bedding down it would just sink in the bogginess.

They have always come in at night to try and help the situation a bit and there is hardstanding attached to just one of the fields but not the other one. The two ponies are always on this bit but theres not really room for 3 of them.

Today i had to keep the horse on the worst field in which i wasnt happy with but i feel there is no choice now. My horse is still out at the moment because her field isnt so bad as the other one but i dont think even that will hold out till spring.:unsure:


Owned by Ponies!
Nov 16, 2009
My field would have to be bad before I considered keeping them in. But mine isn't to bad it's the walkway to and from that's the problem. No grass, severe mud and 2 unhappy ponys would do it for me though!


Well-Known Member
Dec 16, 2004
when we had 2 on an acre, we split the field and let half get absolutely trashed. Yes, it meant that that area needed special attention/reseeding come spring but it also meant we had a decent area for spring. The heavily poached area recovered very well. We used to stick out a big round bale of hay so the horses just stood and ate then came in overnight to let their legs dry off and give them a break.


New Member
May 25, 2008
I have 4 on 3and 1/2 acres, 2 large ponies and 2 shetties.

I have a 2 acre paddock at top of field mainly used for winter. A small paddock is sectioned off within this for the shetlands.

If a lot of wet weather is about I let the 2 large ponies have access to bottom paddock, they just have heads down stuffing the better grass so not doing much damage to the land.
Soon as weather improves they are back up the top.

My field is on a slope so although clay never gets too bad.
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