Winter is almost behind us. The days are getting longer and most equestrians can’t wait to get out on their horses. However, you will find your paddocks may need a bit of TLC after the fairly wet winter we’ve had. Keeping up with regular maintenance will make life a lot easier in the long run by helping to promote weed and parasite free grazing and a dense sward.
Lifting the grass and removing debris and dead grasses from the bottom of the sward allows air and sunlight into the soil and roots. This improves the growth and quality of the grass. Harrowing also helps to break up droppings, drying them out and letting them wash back into the ground. For smaller areas I prefer to poo-pick every few days. This helps to reduce the risk of a parasite burden.
Most grazing land in the UK is mineral deficient. Applying fertiliser improves the nutritional value and quality of your grass, which in turn means there are more nutrients available to your horse or pony. We highly recommend Suregrow Fertiliser and Suregrow CSM. We believe they are the best on the equine market. The slow nutrient release ingredients avoid lush grass growth, and promote sustained grass growth. By stimulating root development and strength it gives a denser sward and helps to suppress weeds. There is also no need to remove horses during application providing there is 50mm (2ins) of grass.
Ensure that the soil is moist before rolling but not too wet as it can cause compaction. Normally the main focus is on high traffic areas such as gateways and along fence lines as these areas get paddled and poached.
First priority should be looking out for any signs of ragwort, whether it is rosettes or flowering plants. They should be dug out by the roots and burned, this is the best way to dispose of them. Any other weeds can also be dug out and disposed of. If you have a bigger problem or your area is too large, applying a broad-leaf treatment will help rid your paddocks of weeds such as dandelions and docks. However, there will normally be a rest period.
Gateways, fence lines and around hay feeders are often the areas that are most in need of a little over-seeding. They get a lot of traffic over the winter and can become thin or bare. Over-seeding is best done in early spring. Try keep the area free of traffic and trampling until the grass has germinated and established.