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Planet Project

Armor Your Soil

published Monday Oct 21, 2019

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In his book “Dirt to Soil” Gabe Brown writes about Five Principles of Healthy Soil. The first principle is limit disturbance. For horse people that means we need to create an area of hard standing so the horses can come off the pasture when they aren’t actively grazing.

That’s not how the pastures are managed on so many of the farms I see as I drive around the countryside. Horses are left out in small pastures. The constant pressure on the ground turns large areas of their field to deep mud.

That brings us to Brown’s Second Principle of Soil Health: Armor your soil.

On Friday I’ll post episode 1 of our Horses for Future podcast. This will be an interview with Jane Myers explaining her Equicentral system.

Jane recently shared a video about using hay as mulch to restore pastures to good health. This week’s planet project is related to this: armor your soil. If you have bare patches in need of repair, get them covered.

Jane describes how you can feed your horses their hay in the damaged areas of your pasture. Once the ground is well covered in mulch, fence the horses out of that area so it can recover.

Let’s share photos. What are you doing to armor your soil? If you have any before and after pictures that can inspire others, please share.

P.S. This week’s Horses for Future photo shows a common situation for many of us. Our pastures are right next to crop land. Look at the field beyond the horse pasture. It is bare ground. It will be left that way through the winter.

As we learn more about regenerative techniques, horse people may be able to nudge our neighbors towards practices that will sequester more carbon AND increase the productivity of their land. Horse people can make a difference!

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Announcing our new Horses For Future Podcast!!

Armor your soil. That was this week’s Planet Project. To follow up on that Manda Scott and I interviewed Jane Myers, the developed of the Equicentral system. Part 1 of the interview is now available as a podcast.


You can listen to it at the sequestercarbon web site (


or on soundcloud (…/episode-1-interview-with-jane-myer…)

Listen to the Podcast

You learn from what works and what doesn’t. When I built my barn, I was drawing on years of experience visiting and boarding at many different kinds of horse farms. Some of these properties were beautifully designed. I would take in all thoughtful details that made the work easier and contributed to the overall well-being of the horses.

And then there were other farms where people had clearly given little thought to the day in and day out care of horses. There was the ankle deep mud around the gates, the long walk out to turnout, the manure piles that were a hike from the barn. Whoever was cleaning the stalls definitely got their exercise! There were dark, poorly ventilated stalls, limited turnout, muddy paddocks - the list goes on and on.

It’s example - non-example. I learned what elements I wanted in my barn in part by looking in part at what I didn’t want. I also collected great ideas from all the properties that I visited where things were done well.

Sometimes those weren’t the “prettiest” barns, but the elements that mattered to horses were clearly in evidence as were the labor-saving details that made them manageable without a full-time work crew.

But what do you do if you have one of those over-grazed, beaten down farms where nothing is quite as you would like it to be? In my area people have often taken over old dairy farms where the barns and fields were designed for a different purpose. When you are knee deep in mud dealing with the daily pressures of caring for horses, it can be hard to see your way to a solution.

But there are solutions. Jane Myers’ equicentral system is one worth considering. In this podcast Jane describes the basic idea behind the equicentral system, and then provides practical suggestions for restoring overgrazed areas back to healthy pasture.

It’s a win-win-win way of managing horses. You get healthier, more attractive pastures which in turn contributes to your horse’s health and emotional well-being. And healthier pastures also sequester more carbon which is good for the planet.

In this podcast Janes gives us a road map for getting to this win-win-win way of maintaining your horses. Again you can listen to it at the sequestercarbon web site ( or on soundcloud (…/episode-1-interview-with-jane-myer…)

I will eventually have it up on itunes and other podcast providers, but I have run into a technical glitch which I have not yet resolved. But I didn’t want to keep you waiting for this interview, so the links will get you to it.


Alexandra Kurland

Founding Member of Horses for Future

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