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incorporating horses into permaculture design

 
Mariah Wallener
Posts: 167
Location: Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, Canada
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I saw no places in the critter forum to discuss horses, and mine is not so much a 'care and feeding of' but more a question about their place (if any) in permaculture design.

I know that permaculture incorporates the use of animals to provide inputs and ways to handle outputs. I realize that horses provide no meat or milk (unless you have exotic tastes, I suppose) but they can provide exhaust-free, non fossil fuel burning labour. Honestly though, we are just a family who loves riding and wants to bring horses onto our homestead. Using them for labour may come later.

Horses can use up a lot of land depending on how you manage them, they cannot live off the pasture grown on a small holding and thus must be supplemented, but of course their manure is very useful. I can't be the only horse lover out there who also is interested in permaculture.

Is there a "smart" way to bring horses into the picture?
 
Levente Andras
Posts: 153
Location: Harghita County, Transylvania, Romania
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I've been asking myself the same question lately.

Where I come from (Transylvania, Romania) many traditional farmers (smallholders) keep horses as draught animals for transportation, ploughing, logging, etc. But they have to work real hard FOR the horses - typically each household that keeps horses make their own hay, and you probably know how much land and work that requires, especially as these people do almost everything manually.

I guess it all depends on the extent to which one will use the "horse power". For me, as one who is interested mainly in horticulture on a small(ish) area of land, it would probably not pay off, although I do love the idea of non-fossil fuel powered transport and the relationship one can develop with the animals.

But I know people who work as loggers and wouldn't be able to make a living without their horses, so they are willing to put in the hard work required by keeping horses.

These are two extremes - perhaps there are imaginable situations in between the two...
 
Miranda Hebert
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I would love to know the answer to this too. I hope to have a small farm in the future and would love to be able to own a horse, for riding and for pulling a cart (I don't plan on owning any vehicle). My hopes is to have enough land for the horse to live off of pasture for most of if the year if not year-round. Anyways, I will be watching this topic!
 
Kris schulenburg
Posts: 112
Location: Henry County Ky Zone 6
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Hi,
I think a lot about this subject too, the way i learned about Permaculture was researching how to feed my two boys, Cid(Mustang) and Buddy(ASB) more "sustain-ably" mostly off pasture(4ish acres). I realize horses are an extravagance and should probably be working to feed starving children instead. At the same time horses are wonderful creatures worthy of life (IMO). Don't have any answers but here is what i have learned and observed,

Rotational grazing/paddock shift is where its at. My pastures have improved immensely. need at least a 30 day recovery. If i had the time and equipment could have got a decent 1st cut hay (2013). Don't know if it would have fed them all winter but the most grass in 9 years. (there are other discussions in this thread too)

Sacrifice area. They need a place to stay off the pastures in winter and when it is too wet and when they are getting too fat.

Swales. Keeping water on your pasture the best way you can. Have only got 2 small hand dug ones but it made a big difference and will work on more this year. Working on Mark Shepard "Restoration Agriculture" type systems.

Live Stock Gardians. thinking this could be their permaculture nitche. My boys hate dogs and will chase them and try to stomp them. I'm thinking this should go for coyotes and foxes too. Had a red chicken this summer who followed the boys around and slept in the barn with them. Forgot to lock the boys in one night and no more chicken I got some more chickens and turkeys so we will see how it works out and be sure to keep the horses up at night).

Sheep. they eat the weeds and fence lines and spread furtility more evenly. Give milk and meat. Have really improved pastures and cut down on mowing. The horses can be a little rough with them so give sheep an escape route.

3 sisters. Horses are high maintenance so we dump the manure from stalls and corral area in beds on contour to "compost in place". The first year corn/beans/squash do well and the year after most annuals do ok, we use the corn for feed and stalks for bedding. Sheep eat the extra squash.

Thanks for bring this subject up. LMK what you all think. I'll let you know how the LSG experiment goes in the summer

 
Janet Williams
Posts: 16
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IMO, as a life long owner of horses, this indulgence is worth the work. Life needs to be enjoyed. We enjoy a slow day spent on the wagon or in the saddle as time to appreciate life and all that nature has to offer. It's also great for that "alone" time with someone special. A good horse will reward you in many ways, and the manure is not only good for growing plants. We have great worm beds because of that contribution!
If the need arises, our wagon horse will plow the garden.
 
henry stevenson
Posts: 52
Location: Devon, UK
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Input will also depend on the breed of the horse.

I don't yet have horses (I plan on doing so at some point), but when I do I will be going for a dartmoor or dartmoor cross. I live on the edge of dartmoor so they are available. If I'm willing to put the time in with a youngster with near zero experience with humans I can get one for £20 plus passport (about £40), dartmoor ponies are incredibly strong, used to living on the moors throughout the year, designed to live on rough/poor grazing and small for the weight they can carry. I realise that this isn't going to be the same as for most people as I am fortunate enough to live nor so far away from where they sell the ponies fresh off the moors but hardy little native breeds do generally require less input than horses or ponies developed in other climates.
 
Isabel Bolton
Posts: 11
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Greetings,

New information has been found about horses and their positive effects on the human psyche. I highly recommend reading all of Linda Kohanov's books. She also has a super fascinating program that she created called Equine Facilitated Learning. Most of you might be interested in this. http://eponaquest.com/

In addition Alexander Nevzorov has done amazing detailed research about horses. For anyone who truly loves horses his books are a must read! They changed my life for the better. So did Kohanov's.

http://hauteecole.ru/en/alexander_nevzorov.php

Having the right breed for one's area is really vital to horses living happily in an area. For example, for Alaska and Canada the best breed, after must research seems to be the Icelandic. I am looking into buying some!
 
Kat Green
Posts: 76
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I am moving to my 40 acres of natural grass in Arizona next spring. I have a American mustang mare. Since she is a more or less native breed, her nutritional needs may be easier to meet. I am wondering how to manage my land for her. It would be too much work for me to use that much land so I am counting on her to keep the grass under control. I may need to get her some friends to help. Perhaps other peoples horses? Make an offer to a horse rescue? No animals will be eaten on my farm, so only horses. Any suggestions welcome. "Paris" is a dizzy blond, so she is accident prone. Fencing is barbed wire now on three sides. I am also looking for fencing options that are affordable and safe. Now that I think about it, maybe I can trade grazing to a non-profit horse rescue for fencing. Hmmm...








4120
 
Kris schulenburg
Posts: 112
Location: Henry County Ky Zone 6
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I would google "Allen Savory" listen and read everything he has to say about dry land grazing. Then buy the books.

There are lots of free horses out there(in KY anyway). So be picky about who you take in. Make sure they are worth your effort and not just someones problem. If you can find someone to keep their horses at your place for help or money (if they are trustworthy) could work for everyone.

Single strand electric wire, step-in posts and a solar charger work great for horses in a rotational grazing system. It is relatively cheap, but everything costs $. It is probably worth adding a strand of electric to the perimeter for security.

A couple of sheep would add to fertility of the land and weed control. But only if they are smart enough to stay right with the horses or they will probably get eaten or can get out of 3 strand barb wire.

Good Luck!



 
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