Space needed for horses

Discussion in 'Horses' started by JaneDoeling, Mar 18, 2019.

  1. JaneDoeling

    JaneDoeling Member

    Mar 5, 2019
    Hey y’all!
    My family and I want to get two horses on our property but we only have a 1/3rd acre. The question is, is a 2,000 square feet turnout area enough for them? Of course, we would lunge them daily and include riding, but just curious. I wouldn’t want the horses to be unhappy.
  2. ksalvagno

    ksalvagno Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    They usually say 1acre per horse. You would be feeding one heck of a lot of hay and their pasture would be mud very quickly.
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  3. OpieDoodle

    OpieDoodle Well-Known Member

    Nov 15, 2015
    Dayton, OH
    You're looking at a LOT of hay. They'll have 1/3 of an acre destroyed in no time at all plus that really isn't much space to really stretch run and play. I use to show horses and we would often keep some of the big time show horses individually on small 1/2 acre paddocks but a single horse would have that destroyed in a month or less and we'd rotate to another. These horses got a LOT of mental stimulation tho and still got some time out in big fields.

    I think in terms mental stimulation 1/3 acre is going to be too small. Even with lunging and riding you're looking at what maybe 1-2 hours a day, if even that. Something else I'd look into is cost of hay as you'll have to feed hay and grain year round on that small of a field.

    You may be okay with a couple minis or something but personally I wouldn't do full size horses on that size property year round.
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  4. SalteyLove

    SalteyLove Well-Known Member

    Jun 18, 2011
    New England
    No, that is not enough space for one horse and definitely not two.

    Also be sure to check if your town/city/county has any zoning requirements for the amount of acreage required to keep a horse.
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  5. JaneDoeling

    JaneDoeling Member

    Mar 5, 2019
    As far as feed goes, we don’t plan on pasture feeding, just hay and grain/supplements. Our property is closer to 1/2 (sorry I misspoke). Does that seem possible? Idk if it would be the best. If not, my aunt has a property of one acre that we could board them at.
  6. OpieDoodle

    OpieDoodle Well-Known Member

    Nov 15, 2015
    Dayton, OH
    I'd consider a single horse on half an acre but I usually aimed for an acre per horse or more. You're likely looking at the horse being on a mud lot with a small pasture so where ever this is make sure who ever owns the property is okay with this. You'll want to make sure they have dry area for when the ground is too wet to they don't end up with hoof issues. It most certainly *can* be done but after owning horses and training them in the past if it were me I wouldn't. I'd look at boarding somewhere with big pastures.

    Grazing and pasture goes a long way for mental and physical stimulation of the horse so you'll want to make sure you have plans in place to keep the horse mentally and physically stimulated each day.
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  7. Damfino

    Damfino Well-Known Member

    Dec 29, 2013
    Right behind you
    I agree with the others. I'd be looking for someplace to pasture board them. It became traditional to keep horses stalled during the olden days when they were our primary mode of transportation, so we grew accustomed to thinking of them as requiring only a little space. But we must keep in mind that horses back then were basically used all day every day, and often the work was pretty exhausting, so they needed "down time" more than they needed space to run. Unfortunately, people have often continued to stall horses even though most of them are now only used for recreation and given light to moderate exercise for only an hour or two per day.

    One of the problems with keeping horses penned up where they can't really get up speed and race around, buck, and play on their own is that they can be hard to handle when you try to ride them. Even the nicest horse may become dangerous to handle if it has too much pent-up energy. Flies are also going to become a real issue in such a small space, and be prepared for them to destroy any trees or wooden fencing as they get bored with year-round hay.
  8. NigerianDwarfOwner707

    NigerianDwarfOwner707 Well-Known Member

    May 17, 2018
    East Coast, USA
    I disagree with raising horses off of pasture. They really should have large open pastures.. they are grazing creatures!

    Where I live, it is 1 horse to 5 acres. But I would never have anything below 1 acre per horse.

    Unless you want mini horses, of course! :ponder:
  9. elvis&oliver

    elvis&oliver Well-Known Member

    Jun 27, 2018
    Agree with all above.
    We have 3 horses with several pastures for feeding rotation and they are brought in at night during winters. Summer they go out at night and in during the day because of heat and flies. I’ve seen horses in tiny pastures they are not happy. Which shows in their behavior which in turns makes them unjustly look like they are bad horses when it’s the owners in fact to blame. I’ve seen horses stalled that will eat their own feces out of unhappiness, boredom or Mineral deficiency along with cribbing. I’ve even seen horses sway back and forth or bob their head up and down from being confined it’s not a pleasant thing. I actually saw a boy who chewed at his sides from being in a good size stall 24/7 but ridden for lessons daily, and he was a retired show horse. As mentioned above it would take 1 day to destroy the paddock area and the manure alone would be knee deep in no time. The hay you would have to feed daily would be costly as well. It might seem doable but you would see problems within a week. Even if you rode them for pleasure or schooled them daily. It is 1 acre per horse. Top show horses are usually stalled and have smaller pastures or are let out to exercise for a few hours a day in large pastures. But they are tended to 24/7 with their own groomer. If you can board the cost might even be cheaper then having them on your small lot with hay expenses. And unfortunately once they get a bad habit out of boredom and unhappiness it can be difficult to change it.
    Good luck!
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  10. toth boer goats

    toth boer goats Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Jul 20, 2008
    Corning California
    So much good advice here.
    The more space, the better for horses.
    JaneDoeling likes this.