What is everyone’s ideal dry lot size and why?
9,000 square miles due to extended drought
My ideal dry lot is a track for them to move around on, preferably in an irregular oblong shape with some straightaways and some loafing areas. See: Paddock Paradise
How many horses, what ages, for how long kept there?
One example, our Cushing’s horse spent the last 6+ years in a 80’ x 307’ feet pen and the horse lots.
He had horses walking in and out and away to their mile long pastures on both sides.
He never fretted about them moving around or going away, would doze in a corner until they came back. He was on straight alfalfa only, with a handful of senior feed to carry his medication.
He was contented and self exercised a good enough minimum, was ridden occasionally for a bit, our vets always complimented how healthy and fit he was:
We’ve got about a third of an acre. Both of my geldings go out together and I wouldn’t have a problem adding another amiable personality in that size lot.
Big enough for them to trot and canter if the mood strikes.
Small enough that the fat one keeps the grass down sufficiently and I don’t have to worry about him foundering spring/fall when he’s locked in there with no grazing muzzle.
Bluey asks some good questions.
Beyond that, big enough for a good gallop and buck-fest. Big enough that I could spread hay around to make it more ‘grazing like’.
I would think 80-100’ wide and at least 100’ long. Minimum. For one horse. But back to what Bluey said, for how many hours a day? What other t/o options will this horse have? If this was a 24/7 scenario, I would triple the size.
Really depends on the situation.
Long-term (years+) or lifetime use for one or two horses using it 24/7? Around 60’x200’ probably. Long is typically better than square for the same square footage, so they have room to get a good run, buck, exercise. So, for 10,000 sq ft, 50’x200’ is preferable to 100’x100’. If possible. I wouldn’t want much more than around 1/4-acre for max two horses for ease of cleaning up the poo.
Short-term use, around 60’x100’. I had three of those on my farm in Ocala, and they were a great size for quarantining new horses, temporarily keeping a horse off grass, etc.
This is my drylot - pastures to each side, barn in the middle. My guesstimate: 150’X50’ irregularly shaped.
When my mini threatened founder, it became Drylot for Everyone! to make my life easier.
Once mini was muzzled & under control pastures reopened.
In Winter, when grass is nonexistent, I will toss hay out for “grazing” - both in the drylot & in each pasture to enocurage movement.
Horses have free access to stalls 24/7/365.
I prefer two sizes - a stall/shed with an attached 20x30 dry lot. Room to buck, rear, spin, and lay down room even with winter snow to drifts. Easy to clean with a skid steer or tractor every 6 weeks. If needed a horse in work can live in this sized space for a a long time and its very low labor. Second size is roughly minimum a half acre - big enough for 2 or 3 horses to race around in and be an outdoor rough arena. This one I like to maintain some kind of grass in. The stalled horses can go out on it for 2 to 4 hours every other day, run, fart, sleep and nibble a bit of grass. Pick up poop once a week and drag as needed, again low labor. Its a mental play ground vs a true pasture. You can keep horses quite a few horses (and keep them sane and eliminate desertification, with minimal labor) on a pretty small place in a variety of climates.
If the horses are in the dry lot all the time, it would be nice for them to have enough room to run. If they are able to get out to run and stretch their legs for a few hours a day, smaller is ok, but everyone should have room for personal space.
My best ones were 1+ to 2 acres. Kept easily as dry lots because I had 3 equines on them 24/7.
Now my overnight dry lot is connected to the 3 sided shed with a lean to off the barn. It about the size of a huge round pen. I think it has 14 round pen panels . Plenty of room for my 3 overnight when off pasture time is needed.
They are free to come and go from about Dec-March until the grass starts again.
A good sized dry lot easily has enough room for the horses using it to get away from each other if the need arises!
Important point made there, horses need to feel free to get away from one in a bad mood, not have to suffer being someone’s punching bag.
Especially older horses thrive with at least some hours a day in their own space, where they can relax completely, not have to worry to keep track of others to push around or that make demands of them.
A friend does his work during the day and in the evenings mostly trains in his arena and rides some outside.
After he is thru, he turns his handful of horses out to pasture for the night and in the morning they are back in the pens and he puts each one in each own 16’ x 50’ pen under a long shed.
He feeds them a bit of grain and every one of the horses eats and will lay down for a long nap.
His horses are always contented and happy under his management.
He thinks that night out and morning in their own space was a key to horse’s calm minds.
More to consider.
To add to @Bluey 's comment, I also divided my dry lot for over year when my young gelding first arrived.
He had his own shelter , water and all the hay he wanted without having to compete with my 2 older mares. It also saved them from being pestered to death by a young, mouthy kid.
Nobody seemed to mind the smaller space and they were happy and content. They are together now that he is 4 and doing fine.
Exactly, see what your horses need and tweak what you do until it fits them, change as you see the need to change, so everyone is contented.
Thanks all for the thoughts. For more context this is what we are thinking.
We’re thinking 4 32x72 Limestone Dry Lots for inclement weather. We’ll have 6 1/3-acre grass pastures as well. All horses will be turned out individually.
I think that sounds perfectly fine. Nice length so they can stretch their legs if they want.
Not surprisingly, I find that there’s less movement in a dry lot than on grass, so that seems ample, really.
I have two dry lots as I just split mine. So now one is about 30x75 and the other is about 50x75. I am comfortable putting two horses in the bigger one. Haven’t tried two yet in the smaller one but seems like even that would be okay.
Lots of variables, as others have mentioned, as far as how many horses you have, how they get along, nutritional needs, etc etc.
I suppose I’m a bit old school. My horses are on pasture 24/7. They can move about as they please. Come and go as they please. Graze as they please. In my mind, that’s the healthiest for them. I know that not everyone is lucky enough to have the space to allow their horses to do that so I am happy that I do.
On hot days, they choose to just stand by the water all afternoon during the heat of the day. Evening, overnight, and morning, they go out to graze. But again, it’s by their choosing.
Sounds good to me. I wish I could keep mine separate at night as it would make it easier to adjust hay needs but we do fine.
I would do that too but mine just get too heavy on grass with year round access. The only good thing about Winter is they can be out 24/7.
For diet reasons my two live on a dry lot 24/7/365. I made it as large as possible which ended up being about 90’ by 225’. There are 30’ runs off the stalls if they need to be confined for medical reasons.