Last Updated on April 29, 2022
If you are considering buying a horse, you might be wondering how much land does one horse need. Horses need a lot of space to meet their needs, both for grazing and for exercising. Let’s find out everything you need to know about how much land does one horse need, and more!
Why Do Horses Need A Lot Of Land?
Horses are large animals and need a lot of space to maintain their physical and mental well-being. Even a single small pony needs some land, and a large group of horses will need a lot of land.
Horses are sentient animals – this means that they have feelings and emotions, and can feel pain and distress. The aim when providing suitable accommodation for horses is to ensure that they are kept in a manner that is suitable for their species.
The reason we do this is not only to be nice but it is actually enshrined in law in many countries around the world. Keeping a horse in unsuitable conditions is considered to be cruel, and may result in confiscation of the horse and legal action against the owner or carer.
Five Freedoms – How Much Land Does One Horse Need
The theory which underpins most animal welfare legislation is based on the ‘Five Freedoms‘, which means that the horse must be free to/free from certain things:
- Freedom from Hunger and Thirst: the horse must have access to fresh water and a suitable diet to maintain their health.
- Freedom from Discomfort: the horse must have an appropriate environment including shelter and a comfortable resting area.
- Freedom from Pain, Injury or Disease: prevention or treatment of disease or injury.
- Freedom to Express Normal Behavior: the horse must have sufficient space, proper facilities, and company of the animal’s own kind.
- Freedom from Fear and Distress: the horse must be treated and cared for in a way which avoids mental suffering.
So, when we are considering how much land a horse needs, we need to make sure all of its requirements are met:
- To ensure a horse is free from hunger, the land must have enough grass to sustain the horse, or additional hay may need to be supplemented.
- Freedom from discomfort means the horse must be provided with a means of sheltering from sun, rain, wind, and snow, and there should be a safe area for the horse to rest.
- For a horse to be able to express normal behavior, it should be given the opportunity to run, graze, and play. It should also have other equines as company.
- To provide freedom from fear and distress, the horse should feel safe and secure in its accommodation.
How Much Land Does One Horse Need?
Horses can be kept in very different ways, and individual horses will have very different needs. This will affect how much land is needed to keep one horse.
Most horses are kept in a field, or stabled inside a barn. Many people opt for a combination of the two, as this is the most convenient system. This may involve turning the horse out in the daytime and bringing it into the stable overnight.
Alternatively, a horse can be kept outside at all times, as long as it has sufficient food and shelter. If there is not enough grass for the horse to eat all year round then it can be fed additional forage, such as hay.
It is very uncommon for a horse to be kept in a stable at all times, as this would mean it doesn’t have the freedom to exercise and play. Some horses, such as elite athletes, will have much less time outside than others. However, the opportunity to run and play every day is essential for all horses.
So, let’s take a look at how much land a horse needs at two extreme ends of the spectrum.
A horse that lives entirely outside, and that is required to get most of its nutrition from the grass it eats, should have two acres of good quality grazing. This may need to be split into smaller sections, allowing the grazing area to be rotated.
A horse that is stabled overnight and turned out each day to graze and exercise needs enough space to run and play safely. Around half an acre may be sufficient in this situation.
Summary: How Much Land Does One Horse Need?
So, as we have learned, horses need to be provided with enough space to exercise freely, and if grass is their main food source then they need sufficient grazing land to sustain themselves. If a horse is kept in a stable and fed mainly hay, it will need a turnout area to run and play every day. A horse that relies on grass as its main food source will need much more land.
We’d love to hear your thoughts about how much land does one horse need! Are you struggling to find enough land to keep a horse? Or maybe you’re lucky enough to have plenty of grazing land for your horses? Leave a comment below and we’ll get back to you!
How Many Horses Can I Own?
The number of horses you can own is limited by the resources you have available. You will need to ensure that you have the land, facilities, and money to provide the appropriate care for every horse you own.
How Many Horses Can You Put On 1 Acre?
If the land is used for a few hours turnout each day, then you could put two or three horses on one acre. One acre is not enough land to support a horse that lives outside at all times.
How Much Space Does A Horse Need Indoors?
The minimum recommended size for a stable for an average sized horse is 12ft x 12ft. The horse must be exercised or turned out into a larger area daily.
Can You Mix Cows And Horses?
Cows and horses can be kept together, but you will need to ensure that they have enough grazing land to sustain both species. They can make good companions for each other, but the flies that gather around flies can be troublesome for horses.
Kate Chalmers is a qualified veterinary nurse who has specialized in horse care for the vast majority of her career. She has been around horses since she was a child, starting out riding ponies and helping out at the local stables before going on to college to study Horse Care & Management. She has backed and trained many horses during her lifetime and competed in various equestrian sports at different levels.
After Kate qualified as a veterinary nurse, she provided nursing care to the patients of a large equine veterinary hospital for many years. She then went on to teach horse care and veterinary nursing at one of the top colleges in the country. This has led to an in-depth knowledge of the care needs of horses and their various medical ailments, as well as a life-long passion for educating horse owners on how to provide the best possible care for their four-legged friends.
Kate Chalmers BSc (Hons) CVN, Dip AVN (Equine) Dip HE CVN EVN VN A1 PGCE