Dry LotsDry lot with beautiful shade

‘Dry Lot’ Options - What is a ‘dry lot’?
A dry lot is a 100% grass free zone.

It might be a large yard, round pen or area which can double as an arena. It might be a long strip beside the hedge or the trees. Or it might take the form of a perimeter ‘track’ around the paddock.

Places with good drainage lend themselves to being made into a dry lot. Otherwise it is very worthwhile (and economical in the long run) to invest some resources into making a ‘proper’ dry lot which won’t go muddy in the rain and where the grass doesn’t keep poking through necessitating regular spraying which becomes a pain in the neck and a dent in the wallet!

The best dry lots have an all weather surface at least on some of the area, horse safe fences and shade or shelter.

 

Overview

Your dry lot is your safe place to keep your horse or pony at times of the year when the grass isn’t suitable.

Please note that I am not saying horses cannot eat grass at all!
Only when it isn’t suitable, as in early spring,  autumn and other times depending on the season and the weather.

Sometimes your horse will need to spend only part of the day in their dry lot, other times they might be in there full time, other times of the year they may be out on the grass full time. You will get to know what suits your horse on your grass in your area.

dry countryThose who have large acreages of older unfertilised grasses as in the picture left, for their horses to graze are the exception and likely won’t need to build a dry lot. Those who live on dairy farms are the most likely to need a dry lot.

OMG I hear some of you exclaiming! Yet you will easily rack up the equivalent costs in various treatments and therapies and/or vet bills and risk your safety or that of your children. Unsupporting husbands need to be made aware of the safety aspect. That’s how strongly I feel about it.

 


Keeping Horses on ‘Tracks’

dry lot spraying

We have been keeping our horses on a dry lot which takes the form of a perimeter track around 7 of the 10 acres for 5 years now. We love it and so do our horses. However as with everything once you actually do it you find that there are advantages and disadvantages.

Here is what we have found:

  • We can completely control our horse’s diet. Meaning we can completely delete troublesome regrowth grass from their diet and ensure they get plenty of coarse, fibrous material which is the most important feed for keeping the flora in the hind-gut healthy which in turn keeps the horse healthy.
  • It is a great lifestyle for the horses. They have choices. They can either eat,  go and stand under the trees for shade or shelter or just ‘hang’ or scratch on the big limestone boulders I brought in to make a ‘somewhere’ on the track. They have somewhere to go which promotes movement!  The worst life for a horse is to be confined to a small square with no one to interact with and no choices to make.
  • We can grow our own hay in the ‘middle’ in springtime. The hay contractors love it as it is just one big area not divided into lots of smaller paddocks.
  • After the hay is cut and the grass has dried off as summer takes over we can let the horses out on this more mature grass for periods of the day.
  • The whole ‘middle’ makes a great riding area.
  • Down time with horses because they are not ‘right’ for whatever reason is zero. They are the same all year round no matter what the season!
  • We have zero worm counts. Because the horses are spending the majority of their time on a grass-less track eating hay from their Hay-saver nets they are not nibbling around and therefore not re-infecting themselves.
  • It can be a mission to keep the track completely grass free. It defeats the purpose of keeping them on a track if you let the grass grow on it. Therefore it needs to be sprayed with roundup and a ‘pre-emergent’ which will prevent re-growth for a few months.

You need to make sure you spray under all the fence-lines as well. For those people who hate the idea of using sprays the good news is that the horses on the track are only eating from their hay-nets. When there really is no grass they don’t nibble in the dirt at all.


More of what we know......

Dimples
Dimples, a previously laminitic pony pounds her way happily along on the track.
  • Some people have an aversion to the look of a grass-free area. It really is a small price to pay for the advantages.
  • The dirt when it is dry is liable to turn to dust and blow onto the neighbours in a strong wind.
  • If you are in a high rainfall area and you don’t have good drainage then your track could get muddy at times.
  • If economics allow it, it is ideal to make your track permanent by doing what is necessary to make it an all-weather surface. Similar to what dairy farmers do with their ‘races’. Some people add more ‘all weather’ area of their track each year, bringing in rotten rock or river-run stones to fill the wet spots.
  • If your property is not free draining then perhaps a long strip will suffice rather than a ‘whole track’.
  • You do need to budget for more hay. Our horses have hay every single day because it is so good for them. This is not expensive when you are able to grow your own hay.
  • You need to have multiple hay stations around hayyour track and only one water trough, in order to encourage the horses to use the whole track.
  • We made the inside fence of the ‘track’ out of tape for a start until we were sure it was going to work and was in the right place. Now it is permanent posts with 2 rounds of ‘Hot- Cote’, black plastic coated wire which can be electrified if necessary.
  • The track has no corners which is another safety feature
  • The track makes a good riding area too.