Real-life Horsekeeping

Pasture management is a big topic among horse keepers. you can Google for information by county, how many acres it takes to support a horse or cow or goat on native pasture in a particular area. You can improve pasture by regular maintenance, mowing and seeding. it's typical to cross-fence and rotate pastures - all this can be Googled. Cows - as far as I know - are pretty straightforward, (Google again) but horses have such a complex social system that they take a little more management.

I have two largish pastures, a medium sized one, two smallish pastures, a 'run' that's really an alley between two pastures but easily accommodates an occupant. In addition to all that I have a barn with three pens designed with sheds, a holding pen and a riding area.

When I sort the horses into their pens and pastures, I consider their own statuses within the herd, their pecking orders... who gets along with who. I try to keep buddies together and separate trouble makers. If I have any skinnies or fatties, they have to go where they can be fed according to their special needs. Of course, the stallion has to be were he can't get to the open mares. Fencing is another consideration. We have some old fence, some new fence, some solid pipe and horse fence and some electric fence .... I have two generations of foals that were born and raised during our recent drought conditions that have learned they can slip through electric fence because for those years there literally wasn't enough moisture in the ground to conduct through their little hoofs - ...soooooo ... what's the bottom line in how the horses are sorted?

When all the machinations are done, and everyone is sorted, it finally comes down to the number of feed buckets I can carry at one time. That's where reality rears it's ugly head. Depending on if they get one, two, or three scoops of grain per feeding raises or lowers the number of buckets I can stack and carry and still open and close gates and, one-handed, pour the grain from the buckets into the feeders.

It seems to me that, when we research for our novels and stories, that we need to remember that things don't always work in real life they way the manual says thye're supposed to, and that there are usually circumstances that the manuals don't take into consideration - like how someone could possible carry 25 lbs in six buckets through two gates without the donkey tipping them out of your arms or the mares getting into the alley next to the stallion.

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