[permaculture] Horses in permaculture

sinergyinaction at netscape.net sinergyinaction at netscape.net
Thu Nov 10 13:09:13 EST 2005

Hi Lisa,
thanks for your feedback.
I have no experience at all with horses, but I can probably find out more near where I live, even though the people I know that have horses aren't permaculturist.
Anyway the idea is to have horses (1 opr 2) that can also be used as breeders, do these horses have different requirements than non-breeders?
I am writing from Spain and southern spain (quite a dry and hot place usually) is the place where the land is.
So how much grass do they need to satisfy their needs (in case it needs to be purchased)?
Can they drink purified water produced from a grey water reed bed system?
Is tap (clorinated) water good to them?
The main doubt though is if keeping a horse(es) is compatible with the aim of establishing/restoring a healthy ecosystem from scratch, that is, starting a succession cycle with cover crops and tree seedlings all over the place, also having to rely on a piece of land not bigger than 2Ha.
My feeling is that it isn't and that horses, if ever, should be introduced at a later stage, once the system is well established.

-----Original Message-----
From: Lisa Rollens <rollens at fidnet.com>
To: permaculture <permaculture at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Fri, 4 Nov 2005 13:44:31 -0600
Subject: Re: [permaculture] Horses in permaculture

Hi Antonio,

I couldn't pass up responding to your request!  I am actually taking an
online Permaculture class right now, but I came to it with 5 horses.  I
think some dyed in the wool Permaculture folks would say that horses are
useless unless they do actual work.  OK, so one of mine does pull  cart and
can get me places if neccessary, altho we would have to have a breakdown of
normal transportation before I would take my life into my hands on the roads
around here.

The main thing I want to share with you is that horses needn't be a pit to
pour money in, but one does have to use common sense.  I have not fed my
horses anything since I moved to this farm.  they have only grazed, right
thru the winters, for two years.  Three of them  also did this in Ohio, even
when snow is on the ground.  You would have to plan to have some decent
pasture available for them fairly close because you would have to take hot
water to thaw ice in their troughs for a drink a couple times a day.  (Using
electricity for a tank heater woud be a no-no unless it was solar???...as
would allowing them to drink from a creek)  My troughs are under the eaves
and end up full of ice.

You would need to have the right kinds of horses that are not too soft to
take the elements.  Horses can actually be outside all the time if they have
a windbreak (trees will do, but they will eat the trees if allowed to) and
are allowed to grow winter coats and have enough pasture.  Unless you are
working the animals hard, they can do without purchased feed if you plan
right...the right kind of horse, the right age, etc.  You will need to
manage your pastures well too, rotated grazing is the best on a pasture with
plenty of diversity.  Horses lived wild for many years and can do so now if
we give them a chance.  They can self medicate if diverse plants are
available.  type of grasses in your area might make a difference on success
of winter pasturing.

I don't know where you are, but since you are using hectares, I will assume
not in the US?  I doubt that a hectare will do for winter pasturing even one
horse, because you will have to save a good bit of pasture for cold months
with no growth, depending on where you are.  You need to let the grass get
long and deep-we call that "stockpiling".

RE: what is difficult with horses?  Sounds like you might not have much
experience with horses??  If not, find someone who does!  You can get hurt
with horses, esp if you aren't familiar with them.  They kick, they can bite
and they can run over you or run away with you.  You have to start with the
right ones and continue keeping them in line and out of your space.  Young
ones can be rather foolish, and babies walk around looking for trouble to
get into!  You wouldn't want to be pasturing baby horses anyway.  They need
better nutrition for growth that just winter pasture.

Hope this helps!  You asked a load of questions that can't be simply
answered. To stay safe you really need to find a willing horse person to
help you.  Any more questions tho, just ask.

Lisa, in the Ozarks of MO, USA

"Good management keeps a lot of problems from ever becoming reality."

----- Original Message -----
From: <sinergyinaction at netscape.net>
To: <permaculture at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Friday, November 04, 2005 1:16 PM
Subject: [permaculture] Horses in permaculture

> Hi,
> I am looking for info/pointer and such about using horses in permaculture
> how to manage them sustainably,
> how much land they need or how many horses can be kept by the hectare,
what do they like to eat.
> what is difficult with horses etc.
> Many thanks in advance for any help
> Cheers
> Antonio
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