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[RC] small acreage,.... - smuncy

  The number of horses that can be can kept  on 4 / 5 acres depends  -- 
  what type soil you have,  how well grass is already established (  true grass - not weeds),,
  the  terrain, wet spots, how well land - soil  will tolerate horses - (  horse traffic  - antics, of those horses  - 2 to 8 foot skids/ divits) , and under what conditions, ( how much  you want to 'replace divits' ), some soils will do much better than others. How intensively you can manage, and commit to keep 'at it' .
     As stated the county Agriculture / extension agent - can help you.
    Someone posted that she was in WVa, VA, MD.  area,  and "could  keep 1 horse on  3 acres" - 'A good rule of thumb'.   
But, conditions vary greatly, even  just within the same counties.   I have 3  horses on 5 acres.   I am  in VA,  alot of shale soil here - for me,   and I can keep 3  horses on that / shale ,  - I would not recommend !, and  have to be careful,  (  the other side of the  county has 'good'  soil - they can "easily"!  - if managed well - keep 1 horse per 1 to 2 acres - without  giving hay late spring til early fall). 
   I have to work a bit harder to keep even reasonable pasture -- weed prevention, rotation, not allowing them on certain areas - depending on weather - too wet or to dry,  and  have to give at least some hay all year, plus 'feed'. ) I generally have to seed at least some every year - generally twice,   apply weed killer - two to  three times a  year, and mow areas, ( mowing more a weed control, than for any other reason ), and should fertilize/ lime  more, but.....
   One thing  I recommend - if  you do not have - invest in small tractor ! -  not  a yard type - look for at least  ??  24 or so hp,
 54 inch cut mower,  I think the bigger the better ;  attachment capablilties, ie.  blade, bucket, bush hog, you can get later - if needed.  I have to rely on neighbors with tractors,  --  a lawn type tractor just will not do  the job - it can  - but it will wear out too fast.  ( Plus,  it can take forever to do 'jobs' .) Someone ask - cut to 3  or 4 inch length. Have to be careful, though not to let pasture get 'burned up' , one of fickle 'mother nature'  tricks - never can tell.  But can bet - the time it is mowed close -  you will not get rain  and will it  turn hot.
   If planning to ' bring in'  horses some of  the time  - to a dry lot, or stalls -  jmho, my horses , and what I have understood - horses perfer to be out  at night during late spring, thru early fall, ' in '  during  the day - when heat / bugs worse.  Winter -- not going to have that much grass anyway, probably - so,  out  in the day -' in' at night.??  ( makes sense to me, but --  I  never confine mine, they just hang out in  the shade of the overhang of the barn , or the trees, during heat -' buggy' times ,and during night  during the  winter . If really cold, wet / windy -  they can  be blanketred if wanted - and - they do let me know. Who said ? horses  did not mind being cold, wet? Sometimes, seems true, but ---- they will let you know / can tell when they are miseable.)
   If property flat, I would not worry to much about other farmers' run-off.  The drift from sprays maybe?  Need to talk to them. Ask what they are using. May need to keep horses  off of adjacent area for week or so.?? Especially, if treating borders / fence lines.
   Someone mentioned - manure management - luckily, mine for the most part - do not 'soil'  whole pasture. They have certain areas,  they will use.  -  I need to spread those sometimes, with rakes -  or have had neighbors come in to get for gardens - they just plow 'it'  in early spring, or in the  fall.   Have found though that horses will use one area for awhile, then move to another, and rotate theirselves. ( Ok,  I have one  horse, now,  that the other two are having to train to do this, but  - he is catching on).  On other property - that had more horses  ( 8 to 20    on 20 acres ) - we would 'drag' - it with 'harrow', couple times each season. You do not need to spend  'big bucks'  for a harrow -  make your own - find some old chain link fence, weight/secure  a couple of old tires on it and pull with tractor or truck. As far as manure pile from stalls / or if horses will only use one area - advertise - free - they load and haul; bet you will get rid of, as long as easy access. Just a thought.     Stephanie M