Many areas of the country depend on rainfall to keep pastures lush and growing. “It would be nice to be able to turn the tap and have it rain, but most horse farms are waiting for Mother Nature to deliver it,” said Bob Coleman, PhD, state extension specialist at the University of Kentucky's College of Agriculture.
Some areas receive more rain than others, and in some climates, most of the moisture comes as snow in winter that is then used during spring and summer as irrigation.
“If your region depends on irrigation for growing crops or pasture, you need to plan for it and have a way to water your horse pasture," noted Coleman. "The pasture will need moisture at the right time.”
In a drought situation in a region that normally gets rain, you might have to figure out a way to sprinkle or irrigate the pasture, especially if you are trying to keep a young grass stand alive. You might or might not have a source of water for flood irrigation (from a stream, river or canal) or sprinkler irrigation from a pond, private well or city water supply.
“If you divide up your pasture, you may not need to irrigate all of it, but might water part of it at certain times, depending on moisture conditions and where your water is coming from," said Coleman. "In some areas you might not be allowed to irrigate, but in some cases irrigating recently-seeded pastures is a situation where a water control group will allow you to do it. You might not be allowed to water your yard on a dry year, but you might be able to water your pasture.”
Check the regulations to see what is allowed in your area because every region will be different.
“Don’t assume it’s the same as in your neighboring county or state, or that it will be the same as last year," emphasized Coleman. "If you are in a drought this year and water is being rationed, it could be different. Stay abreast of what’s going on with the water regulations.”