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A Day in the Life of the Cotswold Horse Whisperers, 4

September 2008

The end of summer is always a busy time, not that any time of year is slack when two people are looking after 10 horses as well as teaching. On days when we haven’t got a clinic running, we bring the horses in only for a couple of hours, during which we can move the electric fence to give them a new strip, and muck out the field, then let them out and clean the boxes and yard. During a clinic they are in all day and some even have to work! This means less muck in the field, more in the stables. Muck is easily cleared from areas with short grass, when it is fresh and hasn’t been rained on. In long grass, especially after a couple of days, when the rain and birds have battered it, it’s a much longer job to clear the same amount of muck. So we try to keep on top of it, and never let it go for more than 2 days without clearing the field. By strip grazing, very long and narrow strips, they tend not to trample the new grass, but graze along it practicing shoulder-in, and doing their droppings on the short grass they ate up the day before. It’s a hassle to have to move the fence every day, but it makes everything else efficient.

It’s the time of year for removing ragwort. There’s more and more of it around. No matter how diligently we clear the fields, there’s always more than you find first time round, and as a general rule, even though I have excellent eyesight and can spot a ragwort at a hundred metres, I find that if I see one, there are ten out there. Since most of our pasture has been topped and some has been grazed by sheep, it’s more difficult to find than it would be in a permanently grazed pasture, but strip grazing definitely suits horses better. They’ll have abundant grass all winter, about 25 acres of fresh pasture to share between 10 horses. Additionally we are privileged to have an orchard. Tons of apples which if we get round to collecting them and storing them properly, provide a daily treat and vitamin boost for all the horses till about February.

It’s also the time of year for getting rugs fixed, washed and waterproofed, but most of ours have no rugs and appear happier that way, and those who do wear rugs have been in them most of the “summer” anyway. Plus, I’d be lying if I told you we generally get that done before the cold miserable weather reminds us we needed to do it weeks ago!

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