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Horse Friendly Gardening
 By Winniefield Park   •   5th Jun 2017   •   1,177 views   •   0 comments


Theme gardens are popular and there are cutting gardens, butterfly gardens, famous writer gardens, bird, and wildlife gardens, so why not a horse garden? If you love gardens and you love horses, it isn’t much of a leap to combine both for an interesting outdoor space that benefits your horse.

Say garden, and many people picture a vegetable garden. It’s easy to plant a vegetable garden with your horse in mind. Many of the vegetables that are easy to grow and eat for ourselves are also fine to share with your horse. Carrots are an obvious choice. While you might not eat the very ends and the ferny leaves, your horse will enjoy them from tip to top. In fact, your horse will thank you if you eat the carrot part and leave just the leaves for them. You can also feed them the spindly little ones pulled up while thinning.

Beets are another easy to grow vegetable that our horse will enjoy. Keep the roots for your kitchen, and share the leaves with your horse. Of course, you can eat those leaves too when they are tender, but when they get coarser, your horse won’t mind at all. Your horse might also like lettuce, even if the hot weather makes it bolt. If you have an overabundance of green beans and peas, your horse might like the coarser ones so you can enjoy the tender ones.

Cucumbers and watermelons can be a bit trickier to grow, but should you have extra, you can share them in moderation with your horse. Any type of squash or melon should be fine in small quantities. Remember, any treat can cause colic if your horse gets too much.

Things like onions, peppers, tomatoes, garlic, and anything in the cabbage family should be avoided. Some horses might be fine eating them, but when there are so many other things to treat them with, why take the risk.

There are lots of herbs that are easy to grow and are fine for your horse. Many of them are pretty to look at too, which means they serve triple duty in a horse themed garden. I have seen really cool plantings of herbs. Plant bunches inside a wagon wheel or in the shape of a horseshoe or other shape to continue the theme. Some herbs, like valerian, will show up in blood tests if you are competing, and some, like pennyroyal are dangerous when eaten. So, choose carefully.

Some types of flowers, like marigolds, help repel bugs and some horses like to munch on them. They will nibble off roses and the hips that form after the roses are gone. Nasturtiums are fine for horses, and good on salads too. Planters are a good thing to grow when you have horses because you can move the planters if the horses decide to snack on them and move them back once the horses have moved to another paddock.

Of course, horses can give back to a garden. Horse manure is supposed to age six months before you put it on your garden, but I have applied it fresh from the horse without a problem. Fresh manure will cause carrots to grow hair roots, which isn't harmful, but a little weird looking. Manure tea, made by soaking an old grain sack full of manure in a barrel of water is a good drink for all plants, including those in planters. And, you can camouflage your manure pile by planting vine vegetables like cucs, melons, and squash in it. They'll love the fertilizer and the manure as it rots gives off heat that the plants love - especially if you live in an area of short summers.

To put the final touches on your horse themed garden there is lots of garden decor available to buy. Or, you could make some! Old riding or cowboy boots, helmets, hats or holey buckets can become planters. The rusted-out wheelbarrow can be tipped on its side and filled with flowers. An unusable bridle or halter can hang over the garden fence for ambiance. And an old saddle can be made into a garden swing. It's really not hard to make a garden something interesting for you and tasty for your horse.
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