Posts Tagged ‘stable design’

Achievable Intensive Horse Keeping

Friday, September 24th, 2010

Project Profile

Name of Project: Achievable Intensive Horse Keeping
Property Owners Jacqueline and Bob Raphael
Location: Kudla, Northern Adelaide Plains
State: South Australia

Property size: 5.5 acres (2.2 Ha)

Rainfall: 474mm per annum- from property records

Soil type: Red clay

Land use: Horse keeping for 5 horses and 2 Shetland ponies

Features: Perennial pastures, stabling area and yards for 8 horses including areas for wash down and horse husbandry, revegetation across the property.

Jacqueline Raphael has proved that with an effective property plan, a lot of trial and error, and an understanding of horse management systems it is achievable to work during the week and still maintain a manageable and sustainable horse property.


When Jacqueline and Bob purchased the property eight years ago it was covered in salvation Jane, there were no trees and they spent the first year removing wire and junk from the paddocks (Figure 1). Another problem they initially faced was that they had more horses than what the nutritional potential of the land could sustain.



Jacqueline immediately booked herself into the Adelaide Mount Lofty Ranges Natural Resources Management (NRM) Board’s Rural Land Management Course where she learnt the importance of perennial pastures, the benefits of rotational grazing and how a horse management system can be implemented using stables and day yards. She also learnt about the role that trees play in providing shade and shelter and has implemented this diligently (Figure 2).

Weed control

To eradicate salvation Jane from the property, Jacqueline and Bob employed a spray contactor for 4 years and then applied follow-up control themselves using a backpack sprayer. Jacqueline believes they are finally getting on top of it as the rosette numbers are so low in some areas that she is able to hand pull it.

Pasture management

To overcome the problem of more horses than grazing capability, they invested in a perennial pasture renovation of the day paddocks.

Perennial pastures provide protection to the soil all year round, however if some bare patches are noticed, these areas are covered using seeds and husks which fall to the floor of the hay shed. Jacqueline is very conscious of preventing bare spots as she has learnt that once the soil is bare, the weeds will infiltrate.

The pastures longevity and productivity has increased by implementing a rotational grazing system to allow for rest and recovery of the pastures. The property has been divided into eight small paddocks to facilitate this system. Jacqueline also restricts the amount of time the horses spend on the pastures. The time is entirely dependent on seasonal conditions such as pasture growth and soil condition, although all horses are stabled overnight. This has meant that although the pastures were planted six years ago, they have not needed to be re-sown

Supplementary feeding

In the summer months, when there is very little pasture growth, Jacqueline runs some of the horses during the day in a sacrifice paddock where she supplementary feeds them. They are getting exercise they need and at the same time are not damaging the pastures across the rest of the property. She also ensures the horse’s which are stabled during the day are also ridden on the same day; additional facilities have been built to accommodate this.

Stable design

Jacqueline and Bob implemented an intensive horse management system and have built stables and yards where the horses spend the majority of their time. Often they only spend one to two hours a day in the paddocks.

The use of stables is an important tool within Jacqueline’s system; therefore they needed to be both, sited and constructed correctly to ensure easy management and good environmental standards which will lead to happy horses (Figure 3). All stables face the east to provide shade and protection from the weather. High horse traffic areas such as the mounting area, wash down and horse husbandry areas have been paved to reduce dust and prevent mud problems. Any bare areas are grassed using Kikuyu, this gives good soil protection, is hardy and reduces the chance of invasive weeds establishing on bare soil.

Jacqueline found that surface run-off was a problem and has built the stables up and designed a system using contours to divert the water away to prevent flooding. All of the sheds are connected to water tanks to prevent excess surface water and provide drinking water for the horses.


Jacqueline has a strict hygiene practice of picking up poo, once a week in the paddocks and at least once a day in the stables, to ensure even pasture growth, reduce the risk of disease (ie worms) and to prevent environmental contamination. The manure is then either composted or used as mulch around the trees.


The property boasts a huge variety of native trees and shrubs. Jacqueline began by planting around the stabling areas to provide shade in the summer and shelter during the winter months.

She also planted native trees that love water, such as Red River Gums (Eucalyptus camaldulensis), around the waterlogged areas. This problem no longer exists and they have shelter, shade, quality soil and lots of bird life as a result. The plan for the future is to increase the number of trees along the fence lines to provide a buffer for noise reduction.

Key things learnt over time:

  • Well designed stable areas allows ease of management and prevents dust, mud and manure problems
  • Rotational and restricted grazing of pastures maintains longevity and productivity
  • Weed control is a continual battle but is achievable over time
  • Re-vegetation provides shade and shelter and gives good aesthetics
  • Attending courses and workshops provides practical knowledge to improve the property

NRM in perspective

Property management planning has played a huge part in the success of Jacqueline’s system by developing an adequate plan for the implementation of an intensive horse management system.

Waste management is critical in preventing effluent entering watercourses and is also beneficial for use as compost.

The grazing management using smaller paddock and rotational and restricted grazing has allowed longevity in the pastures, particularly in the summer months when bare ground can lead to increased weed incursions and increased risk of soil erosion.

The use of trees to provide shade and shelter not only protect the horses but also provides food and habitat for local native birds and animals.

Figure 2: After- showing good pasture cover, tree enclosures with composting poo and tree lines

Figure 1: Before- showing bare, compacted soil, salvation Jane and lack of trees

Figure 3: Well designed stables and yards are a key component of the successful system