Greetings friends. For those of you new to me, I am Nathaniel Griffith. Please, let me close this gate to our horse pasture.
This is the best pasture in Aquidneck Island. It took years to get it this way. When we first came to the island in 1651 this land was primarily bush and trees. We cleared what we could and let the grass take over. What makes this pasture particularly good is the mixture of grasses.
A horse’s natural habitat is grasslands, where there food is plentiful and there are little visual obstacles (for example, mountains, forests, etc.). My uncle took me to Dartmoor in South England where wild ponies run. They thrive there because they can see their enemies in time to flee.
Grasslands also have harder ground than rainforests or more humid regions, and therefore the horse's feet are kept tough.
This wetter country requires more care in keeping the horse’s hooves from rotting. Also, this country requires us to provide shelter for our horses from the rain, where dryer grasslands would not. A gully or side of a hill would suffice to block cold winds there. The occasional tree in low lands would provide shelter from the sun.
We are plagued with flies here, but grasslands have fewer flies. The dry air and constant wind keep them at bay. Here, ye will notice, we fight a constant battle with the pestilent creatures.
See that large mare over there? She’s a heavy draft horse from France. Horses like her come from more humid and cold areas, like Northern Europe. Her stockier build requires a more succulent grass and lots of it compared with the smaller horse, like my bay gelding. I bought him from a merchant who swore he was an Arabian.
The bay is an easy keeper. That is, he doesn’t require as much grass as the mare. His thin coat, however, makes him more susceptible to rainrot, a condition where a horse left in the rain for long periods at a time develops a skin infection leaving scabs in place of hair. The draft mare seems to handle the rain better. Her coat is thicker, ye see.
Because of the amount of rain we get on the island, I find I must bring the horses into the barn at night and during a rainstorm. The merchant who brought the bay horse to me told of how the Arabians rarely stabled their horses, at least as compared with us English.
One day I hope to lay bricks on the floor of my barn. This will help to keep the horses’s feet dry. For now, we dig trenches to direct the runoff out of the barn and away from their feet. We are careful to daily clean their hooves. This will help prevent rotting.
Look over at the patch of ground by those trees. Ye see how it is muddier than the rest of the pasture? Horses tend to use an area of a pasture for a privy. I personally consider this helpful, rather than soiling the entire pasture. I can more easily clean the area, pile the manure, and use it for our garden in a year’s time.
Horses in the wild will move from place to place. If ye look to your right and to your left, ye will notice the fence lines dividing this large area into three. I do this so I can move the horses from field to field. This keeps the pastures from being overgrazed and reduces the worms and flies.
I see Mr. Easton is coming down the trail. If ye will excuse me, I need to speak to him about some land on the southern part of the island. I hope to move some cattle there next month. Godspeed to you.