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5 Acre Ranch Plan (Vanity: FR Horse Owners)
9 June 2003 | HTM

Posted on 06/09/2003 10:29:04 AM PDT by HonkyTonkMan

I'm clearing a 5 acre parcel of land for a home, barn, and horses. Do FReepers have any suggestions, landscaping plans or ideas for the optimal 5 acre horse ranch. I have looked on the web for ideas, but I'm coming up short.

If anyone has book recommendations, links, or ideas, I'm all ears!

One book I plan to get is "Five Acres and Independence: A Handbook for Small Farm Management" by Maurice Kains



1 posted on 06/09/2003 10:29:04 AM PDT by HonkyTonkMan
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To: HonkyTonkMan
Why don't we all go in together and buy a race horce?:)
2 posted on 06/09/2003 10:30:45 AM PDT by FryingPan101 (Ya know?)
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To: lysie
Any suggestions??
3 posted on 06/09/2003 10:32:56 AM PDT by Dog
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To: FryingPan101
How can 5 acres be a The ranches I do work on here in Texas are over 40,000 acres. 5 acres is more like a large lawn to
4 posted on 06/09/2003 10:34:51 AM PDT by rockhead
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To: HonkyTonkMan
How many horses do you plan on housing on this property?
5 posted on 06/09/2003 10:36:49 AM PDT by cjshapi
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To: HonkyTonkMan; rockhead
Where are you located?

Five acres qualifies as a Ranch in California!
6 posted on 06/09/2003 10:39:05 AM PDT by Ernest_at_the_Beach (Recall Gray Davis and then start on the other Democrats)
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To: rockhead
Go to the Western Horseman website ( ? maybe use a search engine). Their back issues should be available, and awhile back they had an article on constructing ranchette buildings.
7 posted on 06/09/2003 10:40:26 AM PDT by MJemison
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To: cjshapi
bump for later reading
8 posted on 06/09/2003 10:40:33 AM PDT by ImaGraftedBranch (Education starts in the home. Education stops in the public schools)
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To: cjshapi; rockhead
3 horses. I would like 3 paddocks to rotate. I can't find much information on landscape design/layout specific to horses. I prefer to keep some privacy along the parameters. It's mostly scrub-brush and pine.

Rockhead - this is just a small residential home/ranch, not a working ranch.

9 posted on 06/09/2003 10:40:56 AM PDT by HonkyTonkMan
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To: HonkyTonkMan
How many horses? Not too many I hope, because 5 acres is a little small for anything other than one or two. If you're not going to supplement food with hay and grain, it won't be enough unless the horses are very easy keepers.

A lot depends upon your topography, climate, the vegetation on the parcel, and the prevailing winds. You don't say where you live, whether north or south latitudes, or how much rainfall you get. A temperate climate with good drainage and adequate but not excessive rainfall will support more use than either desert or very wet areas.

General rules would include - don't cut down all the trees, esp. hardwoods upwind into the prevailing winds and around the house. That will limit your pasturage somewhat, but it is necessary to prevent erosion and exposure. Be sure to locate the barn and paddocks well away from the house and downstream of any water source on the property. Good drainage at the barn and at any place horses will tend to congregate in paddock or pasture (water trough, feed buckets, shade). If you are in a thunderstorm zone, beware of lone trees on high points that your horses might shelter under, and keep your shade trees inside the fencing in a low draw.

That's all I can think of off the top of my head. Others may have more suggestions.

10 posted on 06/09/2003 10:45:00 AM PDT by AnAmericanMother (. . . there is nothing new under the sun.)
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To: HonkyTonkMan
Don't know much about landscaping but I do know alot about the horse business otherwise. If you're going to try to claim your horse farm losses as a business you need to join the American Horse Council. For $100 dollars you get someone to fight for your issues as well as their Horse Owner's and Breeders Tax Hand Book(several hundred pages) which your local tax guy probably doesn't have.

Oh and, if you can make a profit, write a book about how you did it, then retire on the royalties.
11 posted on 06/09/2003 10:46:17 AM PDT by billb
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To: HonkyTonkMan
You have a problem.

How much pasture should I allow per horse?

Stocking rates depend on your horses’ feed needs and the pasture’s yield. As a general rule, horses eat about 1 to 2 percent of their body weight per day in the form of pasture forage. Assume that a 1,000 pound horse will eat about 15 to 20 pounds of pasture forage per day.
Stocking rates of one horse per two to four acres may be easily achieved with a little attention to fertility, weeds, and forage mix. Higher rates could result in the horses trampling much of the pasture and damaging forage. However, well-managed pastures (those with adequate fertility, few weeds, and the appropriate plant mix) can be rotationally grazed at higher stocking rates.

Do a Google searce on these terms: horse pasture management
12 posted on 06/09/2003 10:47:45 AM PDT by centurion316
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To: AnAmericanMother
It's going to be a Florida ranch. Like all Southerners, a major adversary is going to be Kudzu no matter how I plan it. The soil is sandy and mostly dry, turns to clay about 3 ft. down. Drainage is not the best, but it's not swampy. Most Florida horseowners supplement any grazing with feed and hay (alfafa or timothy) b/c the grass is not very nutritous.

Thanks for your suggestions.

BTW: I did look into greenbelt laws in FL. You must have cows (not horses) to take the tax exemption. This can also be done if you have a certain number of orange trees per acre.

13 posted on 06/09/2003 11:01:45 AM PDT by HonkyTonkMan
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To: HonkyTonkMan; Dog
Thanks for the ping, Dog.

HTM, you have received good advice. Please, when planting keep this in mind.

Good luck. Hard work ahead, but the rewards are great.

14 posted on 06/09/2003 11:11:07 AM PDT by lysie
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To: HonkyTonkMan
Your initial drainage plan is going to be easiest to do before any structures are put in. It sounds like your drainage is marginal -- I would invest in a detailed topo from a land surveyor and consult with a good civil engineer to plan grading and planting to optimize your drainage. Horses are absolute H$!! on soil, and sand on top of clay is going to wash pretty badly unless you have a good plan.

You'll definitely have to get rid of the kudzu because it colics horses right up. Goats are very useful on kudzu. . . . in fact the only cure I know of short of very expensive deep harrowing and spraying.

Another thing we did when I worked on a ranch in Nebraska is plant lots of willow trees and river birches around the watering troughs or any creeks and ponds where the horses and cattle had access. Those trees will absolutely DRINK water in mass quantities, and it helps stop the "mudhole syndrome" around the watering sites.

15 posted on 06/09/2003 11:13:04 AM PDT by AnAmericanMother (. . . there is nothing new under the sun.)
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To: FryingPan101

Sometimes you just wake up with nothing working. H-O-R-S-E

16 posted on 06/09/2003 11:13:37 AM PDT by FryingPan101 (Ya know?)
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To: HonkyTonkMan
5-acres is plenty of room for 3 or 4 horses or more depending on what you want to do.

I have found, for my horses, I prefer to keep them on baled hay rather than pasturing them. I can control their weight much better if I'm feeding them under a controlled situation. If you keep them penned up and feed them, on five-acres you can probably get someone to put up your hay for you. You will be amazed at how much hay you can put up on 4-acres. Don't know where you live, but growing your own hay and paying someone to cut it is an option too.

I would suggest checking out web sites that sell small barns and equestrian equipment, like Powder River, High-Qual, and about a million other sites. For small barns, check out steel building web sites, like Quality Steel Buildings...there are also about a million to choose from and they often have deminsions and floor plans listed.

I have been doing this recently as we just bought a 250-acre place and I have been trying to arrange barns, pens, and cattle handling facilities.

Western Horseman magazine has had several dozen articles on small facilities for horses on small acreages.

Who else in your neighborhood has horses? Go talk to them, especially if you see something they are doing that you like.

I would suggest investing in steel panels, the Powder River type...they are strong, easy to move and versatile for your changing needs.

On five-acres you will have plenty of room for a small riding least 100' by 60 or 70. An arena is a must for schooling and practice, working on lead changes, stops, circles, etc. If you are even thinking about getting serious about horses, you have to have an arena at a minimum...a round pen is nice to.

I had a nice little "barn", 24 x 40' which was big enough to store hay and in it we built a small enclosed tack-room that was really handy. These facilities are not outrageously expensive and eventually pay for themselves.

If you are asking these questions, I assume you are just getting started with horses, or possibly haven't had horses for a lot of years. If you are just getting started, I recommend being very wary about buying young horses from "well-meaning" people. Hang around horse events and become knowledgeable, but your first horse should be an older well-trained horse that is not going to sour you on the experience. Your first horse should be at least 10-years old. The old adage about kids, especially, growing up with a puppy does not convert to horses. Get something that is bullet-proof for your first horse. As you outgrow him, you can always trade for something a little more spirited, but if you are just really getting into horses, make the first experiences good ones. Go to some clinics in your area and learn all you can. There is nothing worse for people, or for horses, than having a yard full of spoiled backyard pets that no one wants to do anything with but scratch their ears.

Good luck and have fun...I wouldn't trade the past 27-years of experience with horses for anything.
17 posted on 06/09/2003 11:18:24 AM PDT by Cuttnhorse
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To: rockhead
I used to live in Nebraska. We had five acres and two horses. Called a ranchette. It was okay for the kids. Forty thousand acres is too big.
18 posted on 06/09/2003 11:24:17 AM PDT by FryingPan101 (Ya know?)
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To: FryingPan101
Forty thousand acres is too big.

That's Hugh! < grin >

19 posted on 06/09/2003 11:37:08 AM PDT by HonkyTonkMan
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To: HonkyTonkMan
Stop in and look at many places, large and small, and look at it from the perspective of "If this were my place, I would move that over there" or "That is really slick the way they laid that out.

It is hard to recommend more without seeing YOUR place... I would stand and stare at it for many days probably and try to picture as best you can.

I have two horses on a single 3.5 acre pasture now and they keep it down to the point where there is busy-work forage but I still have to feed hay year round. I could cross-fence it and have better-managed pasture, but I like the size and shape of it now, and it is definately better that they get the natural exercise of running the whole thing. My two DO NOT tolerate being cooped up in small paddocks well, and small paddocks always get muddy if they are penned in them all the time. Important consideration in rainy Washington, that may or may not be an issue for you.

My horses have a lean-to shelter they can access all the time, and box stalls for nasty weather.

Leave as many shade trees as you can.... Not Maples because they are not goot for them if yours are bark and leaf eaters. Look into other toxic plants you may have on the property and remove or spray for them before the horses come on the place. Afterwards, I am always hesitant to use poisons on pasture where I know they are going to eat.

My barn and paddock are quite close (across my driveway) to the house. I wouldn't have it any other way, because to me it was most vital that I can see and hear them anywhere from my window. I watch them all day. The only reason to distance them from the house is flies... and I am meticulous about manure management (I walk around and spread it in the paddocks and pasture) , so I don't have flies. Flies are drawn to and breed in fresh manure, they aren't particularly drawn to the animal itself, and they are not drawn to old manure that has been spread or dried in the pasture.

Other manure tips.... Feed a supplement (or salt block) with an additive in it that prevents fly larvea hatching in their manure. AND Encourage, and don't kill, anthills. I have anthills all over my pasture. Ants comb through manure piles and eat Fly larvea. You will see armies of ants coming to and from a fresh pile.
20 posted on 06/09/2003 12:10:41 PM PDT by HairOfTheDog (Not all those who wander are lost)
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