Farm Management

Setting Goals for Managing Your Horse Property, Part 1

Setting Goals for Managing Your Horse Property, Part 1
Alayne Blickle

Planning the To-do List and Locating Resources

by Alayne Blickle, Horses for Clean Water


Photo credit NWHS

In working with horse owners who are setting up small acreage for horse keeping, I often see a struggle between balancing the “to do” list and having enough time, money or other resources (such as technical assistance or access to farm equipment) and concerns over regulations. Many times things get so overwhelming that little progress is made towards improvements.

In this two part series I will go over the process I recommend to horse owners who want to set management goals for their property:

  • Prioritize where to start
  • Determine resources available
  • Establish possible lines of financial assistance

First, begin prioritizing by listing out the improvements you’d like to do to your horse property. These might include:

  • Creating a sacrifice area with geo-textile fabric and gravel footing
  • Installing gutters and downspouts on barn
  • Building compost bins
  • Installing drainage around barn
  • Cross-fencing pastures

With your list in hand, determine resources available. Conservation districts are one place to start. Conservation districts are local units of government established under state laws to carry out natural resource management programs at the local level. Nationwide they work with millions of cooperating landowners and operators to help manage and protect land and water resources on private and many public lands in the United States.

Conservation districts are in every county in the United States; they do not have regulatory authority nor do they levy fines. They provide free (yes, free!) technical assistance and education on a variety of natural resource issues. Helping horse owners get rid of mud in paddocks, choose the appropriate manure management option, and improve pastures are all practices they can help with. In many states they have slightly different names (for example, in Washington these entities are known as “conservation districts”; in Oregon and Idaho they are known as “soil and water conservation districts”; in California they are “resource conservation districts”).

To locate your conservation district do an internet search with your county name and “conservation district.” Your district office should be able to help you with identifying the small farm land management practices that need assistance on your place and they can direct you in setting priorities.

Other resources might be your local extension office, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, or a knowledgeable professional such as Horses for Clean Water.

Next month we conclude this article by further discussing conservation districts and how they can be a resource to horse owners who are working to set management goals for their property. We will also cover some possible lines of financial assistance.

Join Horses for Clean Water at a Pacific Northwest location near you to learn green horse keeping practices:


Saturday, February 25, 9 am to noon

WORKSHOP:  Track paddocks, trail courses, slow feeders and other innovations for confinement area horse keeping. King Conservation District, 425-282-1949 or


Thursdays, February 16 & 23 and March 1 & 8, 6:15 pm to 8:45 pm

Black Diamond Library

Workshops for Horse & Small Farm Owners   

King Conservation District, 425-282-1949 or


Monday, February 27, 6 pm – 9 pm

PRESENTATION: Mud & Manure Management on Horse & Livestock Properties. Skagit Conservation District, 360-428-4313 or


Saturday, March 3, 10 am to noon

FARM TOUR: Willow Creek

King Conservation District, 425-282-1949 or


Published February 2012 Issue

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Farm Management
Alayne Blickle

Alayne Blickle, a life-long equestrian and educator, is the creator/director of Horses for Clean Water, an award-winning, nationally acclaimed environmental education program that “wrote the book” on caring for horses and land. Known for her enthusiastic, fun and down-to-earth approach, she is an educator and photojournalist who has worked with horses and livestock owners for over 20 years. Alayne teaches and travels throughout North America and abroad, and also runs Sweet Pepper Ranch, an eco-sensitive guest ranch and horse motel in Southwestern Idaho where she and her husband raise top-notch reining horses and beautiful grass hay. For more information contact Alayne at or 206-909-0225.

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