Inexpensive Dry Lot for PSSM Horse

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Credit: Thinkstock Make sure any electric fence you use is highly visible for the horse.

Credit: Thinkstock Make sure any electric fence you use is highly visible for the horse.

Editor's note: The following question and answer are from our Ask the Expert forum on barns and farm building that is hosted by Animal Arts. If you would like to read other posts or ask a question of the experts, please visit the Barns and Farm Build Ask the Expert forum.

Question: I have a client with a PSSM type 1 Quarter Horse. I need to create a dry lot for this mare. Can you offer some suggestions on how to do this inexpensively and not permanently? I know I can use electric fence, but I've never used that before (I have paddocks, but I'd hate to plow one up, and I'm not sure it wouldn't grow grass anyway as my fields are really lush and well cared for.)

How big a dry lot and what do you recommend?

Answer:Our thoughts about your question are influenced by the fact that the mare has PSSM, which means to me that she’ll be prone to tying up. She’ll need to be managed on a special diet and will also need plenty of gentle exercise. And for that reason, we’d hate to recommend a dry lot that is so small that she isn’t inclined to move around it readily.

We think you’d be wise to contain her in a lot that is at least 100’ x 150’, which is a third wider and a little longer than a regulation dressage arena (so you can picture it in your mind). She can then get to jogging around safely in this space on her own if she’s inclined to.

The basics are also important:

  • Locate the paddock in an area that drains well so it doesn’t get muddy.
  • Give it a large access gate so you can get into it to clean manure.
  • Provide a smaller man gate for regular access, and improve the soil directly around the gate so it doesn’t get murky right there.

For fencing, electric fence would potentially be okay, but we’d recommend you upgrade to the poly-tensile electrified fabric strands because they’re a heck of a lot easier for the horse to see--so they’re not as unsafe. Any lower cost fence is going to require very rigorous inspection and regular maintenance.

If you want the situation to be even safer, then consider using a pipe rail fence, which will be safer if she runs into it. At least use pipe for the gates and on either side of them for a sturdy entrance and exit from the lot.