Three horse properties near Lake Connewarre, south of Geelong, recently hosted a group of enthusiastic horse owners interested in learning about different property designs and horse-keeping systems. As two of the properties had been designed with both horse health and land health in mind it provided a great opportunity to discuss some of the environmental implications and challenges of keeping horses on small acreages. The different designs included:
- A ‘Paddock paradise’ system; This 3.7acre property has an electric fence laneway / track around the paddock boundary. There are slow feeding stations and watering points for horses along the track. Keeping horses restricted to the track as a sacrifice area allows paddocks to be rested to better practice grazing management of pastures to reduce soil erosion, and horses can also undertake normal horse behaviours including exercise. The regeneration of native vegetation has been protected through electric fencing.
- An ‘Equicentral’ system; The design of this 4 acre property has been based on a horse keeping concept where a central surfaced yard with one watering point is connected to several grazing paddocks. Horses can be kept as a herd with only one paddock being grazed at a time, so that rotational grazing can be practiced. This design aims to maximise ground cover, reduce bare ground and reduce weed infestations.
- A traditional layout; This 4 acre property has individual paddocks with watering points, paddock shelters and pasture in each.
The event looked at what works well and discussed management challenges and benefits with property owners. Over 30 people participated in the day which was a partnership event with the Surf Coast and Inland Plains Network, Connewarre Landcare Group, Connewarre and District Riding Club and the Corangamite CMA Regional Landcare facilitator Program.