What Should I Look for In a Kentucky Horse Farm Pasture?

Posted by Hill Parker on Friday, June 5th, 2020 at 8:46am.

lexington, ky horse pasture land

Kentucky, and in particular the wide-open pasture land surrounding the city of Lexington, is internationally renowned for raising high-quality thoroughbred horses, among other things.

We’ve already covered what makes Kentucky land so special and fertile for this purpose, but what should you look for if you’re considering buying a Kentucky horse farm?

There is plenty worthy of your consideration, from the home itself to the barn. But as the primary land for the nourishment and exercise of your horses, the pasture land or paddock is probably the most important facet to consider with a Lexington horse farm.

With that said, here some key questions that you should ask yourself when assessing the quality of a property’s pasture.

How Much Land Do I Need For My Horse?

Be sure to consider not just what your needs are now, but what your expected needs will be down the road. Naturally, the needs of more horses are exponentially greater.

The common advice is that you’ll need at least 1.5 to 2 acres of grazing land for each horse. Any less than this and you’ll be significantly increasing the work required to maintain the land. This can be less if you plan to use the land for exercise mainly while feeding your horses hay, but this is a good rule of thumb.

The topography of the land itself can also be suited better for some breeds than others. Thoroughbreds for instance should have gently rolling or near-flat land, whereas ponies and other pleasure types can often make due with steeper land.

Can the Water Drain Adequately?

Ideal pastureland won’t be perfectly flat. The best land will have a slight slope - this way water will naturally drain away from building foundations and not pool.

When you’re assessing a property keep a look out for any muddy clumps in the paddock - this is a sure sign that water isn’t draining effectively.

In addition to making grazing difficult, water run offs will ultimately strip the land of the nutrients that make the soil so valuable. Water sacrifice areas are often created to mitigate water issues on more valuable areas of the farm. These areas are better suited to handle heavier water flow because of their base of wood chips or gravel.

Does Vegetation Cover a Good Percentage of Land?

For many farms, the primary purpose of the pastureland is not only exercising your horse, but providing a primary source of nourishment.

Naturally, the amount of vegetation your horse will consume can vary quite widely depending on the breed, but some horses will graze for up to 8 hours a day. This translates into a lot of grass and legumes.

Typically, the land your Kentucky horse farm resides on should be at least 70% vegetation, or most of the land. Any less and you’ll have to look into either implementing some weed control and reseeding portions of the pasture, or re-establishing other areas into more usable land. Either way, this will just add further expense to your land purchase.

What is the Best Kind of Grass for my Horse?

Well actually, the best and most nutritional vegetation on a horse farm is a mixture of different types of grasses and legumes.

Lexington and Kentucky are of course best known for their infamous bluegrass, but varieties of orchardgrass, tall fescue and bermudagrass can also be found everywhere. It can be tough for a layman to assess the different types of grass so it can be helpful to find an expert to help you out.

Kentucky land’s base of limestone has helped to create especially fertile soils for growing these types of grasses. The essential minerals in these grasses are a primary reason why the Lexington area has been so successful in raising horses, as well as numerous other types of livestock.

By keeping this key concepts top of mind, you'll be able to readily determine if the property you're interested will meet your needs. Even if the land is lacking in one particular area, this will just provide more ammunition for the negotiation table.

Are you interested in making a land or farm purchase in the Lexington, KY area? Please get in touch with Hill or Regan Parker online or call 859-608-8039 today!

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