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Prince William Soil and Water Conservation District
8850 Rixlew Lane
Manassas, VA 20109
Tel: (571)379-7514
Fax: (571)379-8305

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Topic of Interest
Home Owners
Horse Owners
Stream Cleanups
Water Quality Monitoring

Many thanks to our Chesapeake Bay-Friendly Horse Farm Project Public and Private Partners:
Angler Enviornmental
Bar-Bar-A Horse Drinker
B&R Contracting & Fencing
Blue Top Farm
Clean Water Project
of VA Waters-Wetlands
CFC Farm and Home
Crawford Fencing
Ducks Unlimited
Fairfax Water
Kencove Farm Fence
Luck Stone Corp
Mistfield Farm
Morgan Excavating
Nokesville Horse Society
Northern VA Coalition of
Equestrian Org.
O2 Compost
Prince Wm. County
Supv. Wally Covington
Supv. Martin E. Nohe
Supv. John T. Stirrup, Jr.
Prince William-Watershed Mgmt
R.D.B. Trucking
Robert Patterson, Attorney
Seamless Gutter Supply, MD
Southern States,Calverton
Southern States,Manassas
Thomas Jefferson SWCD
VA Cooperative Extension
Virginia Tech-Biological
Systems Engineering
VA Dept of Agriculture & Consumer Serv.
Yankey Farm Service
Stream Buffer hay feeder conservation specialists providing technical assistance Elliott's Farm

Welcome Horse Owners!

We are pleased that you are visiting the horse owners page where we’ll share District ideas, programs, events, and opportunities especially for horse owners. Many Prince William County horse owners are already familiar with our mission and services. We have visited many of your properties, learned about your concerns and objectives, and are working with you to develop and implement solutions. Your overwhelming interest and support continues to keep us extremely busy! We thank you for your commitment to protecting community waters.

We have been actively working with horse owners, teaching them about water quality and land stewardship, with a targeted program, since 1999. The Chesapeake Bay~Friendly Horse Farm Project is the evolution of our outreach culminiating in this "Extreme Makeover-Horse Farm Edition" using both innovative and tested Best Management Practices designed specifically for horse properties. These practices improve horse health, chore-efficiency, property aesthetics and maximize acreage without degrading natural resources. We have documented the whole process, and results, step by step in the narratives you will find below. If you haven't visited the Horse Farm we will be happy to include you in our next tour.

As you read through the many articles we will introduce you to Environmentally Sensitive and Sensible Horsekeeping. Most topics will focus on the management of mud, manure, and pastures. We hope to provide you with the tools to evaluate your land stewardship skills and the inspiration to begin to make needed changes. The steps you take will benefit not only your horses and property, but also local waterways that eventually reach the Chesapeake Bay.

For instance, a testimonial from our client, Mr. Jim Crawford, regarding our assistance with his horse property. "Many thanks for all your excellent counsel. It has made a huge difference. The field looks great, and we now have grass in the woods -- also per your recommendation -- for the first time since we've lived here. I am extremely grateful for the help your conservation specialist gave me. I feel like she took the time to go over every inch of this farm. Her recommendations have vastly improved the productivity, utility -- and health -- of our acreage. People actually stop to admire the pasture."

We would be happy to share the secrets of having show stopping pastures. Please note: this is a private property that is open to the public through the District. If you have questions, want assistance, please contact Nicole Slazinski 571-379-7514.

Facts about horses and the Chesapeake Bay

"The leading threat to the health of the Chesapeake Bay is excess nitrogen and phosphorous pollution that destroys habitat and causes fish kills. Top sources of these pollutants include agriculture, sewage treatment plants, runoff from urban and suburban areas, and air pollution from automobiles, factories, and power plants. Other threats to the Bay's health include sprawl, toxic pollution, and poor fishery management." ~ Chesapeake Bay Foundation

In 2006, over 132,300 equines resided in Virginia counties within the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. That is over 61% of the total equines within the state. This number has likely grown significantly since 2006. ~ Equine Survey Report 2006; Reported by the Virginia Field Office of the National Agricultural Statistics Service; Chesapeake Bay Foundation provided maps of Virginia counties in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.

An average 1,000 lb. horse produces 45 pounds of manure per day, 16,425 pounds (8.2 tons) per year. The average amount of manure from one horse per day is about equivalent to the sewage needs of a community of fifteen people per day. ~ Prince William Soil & Water Conservation District with 2006 Equine Survey Report data

In 2006, equine operations in Virginia contributed approximately $783 million to the economy. This included farrier fees, boarding fees, equipment purchases, hay, grain, bedding, utilities, travel and lodging, advertising, maintenance repair expenses, taxes, etc. ~ Equine Survey Report 2006; Reported by the Virginia Field Office of the National Agricultural Statistics Service.

If you are in the dreaming or beginning stages of setting up a horse facility...

You can get good information on the expenses entailed in a horse facility Basic Costs of Keeping a Horse provided by Virginia Cooperative Extension and contact us for our FREE expert technical assistance.

Getting Started with Best Management Practices on the “Cheap”

is a handy plan to achieve conservation goals.

Money for Horse Breeding Facilities

Virginia Agricultual Cost-Share is 100% guaranteed funded by DCR if you apply and are approved before June 30, 2015. The funding may not be available at the time you apply but the funding is guaranteed once you have been approved. This 100% funded program expires on June 30, 2015, so jump on this opportunity now. Contact us for eligibility.

Horse Keeping - A Guide to Land Management for Clean Water, a publication of Natural Resources Conservation Service

Agriculture Management Practices for Commercial Equine Operations, a publication of Rutgers University.

Got Manure?

We offer your contact information to gardeners who would like to pick up your composted manure. To be a part of our Gardener's Gold Urban Soil Enhancement program, email us with your contact information to be included in the publication pwswcd@pwswcd.org.

Is it safe to use composted manure on my garden?


"There have been a number of reports from organic farmers and home gardeners of damage to vegetables following application of aged and composted horse and cattle manure to the soil. The symptoms exhibited on the crops are twisted, cupped, and elongated leaves; misshapen fruit; reduced yield; death of young plants; and poor seed germination. One possibility for the source of this crop injury is the presence of certain herbicides in manure and compost, reports Jeanine Davis in the report Herbicide Carryover in Manure.

Additional information from Greg Evanylo, Professor and Extension Specialist, Crop and Soil Environmental Sciences at Virginia Tech has been received regarding non-compostable herbicide. "DuPont has developed and is marketing a relatively new post-emergent broadleaf weed herbicide, Imprelis (TM), for turfgrass that contains the same active ingredient, aminocyclopyrachlor, that has previously demonstrated residual phytotoxicity to many plant species after composting. Although the herbicide is intended for use by only commercial applicators, it would be prudent to be aware of the scope of its use. The label regarding composting states Do not use grass clippings from treated areas for mulching or compost, or allow for collection to composting facilities. Grass clippings must either be left on the treated area, or, if allowed by local yard waste regulations, disposed of in the trash. Applicators must give verbal or written notice to property owner/property manager/residents to not use grass clippings from treated turf for mulch or compost."

Pyridine Herbicide Carryover: Causes and Precautions, prepared by Pat Hipkins, Assistant Coordinator, Virginia Tech Pesticide Programs, provides additional information on plant injury due to residual herbicides.

The Chesapeake Bay-Friendly Horse Farm Project

is a public/private partnership that has created a model horse farm for the purpose of identifying and sharing land management practices that benefit horsekeepers and the environment. Through this web site, seminars, farm tours, and other on-site workshops we want to share information about the sensible and environmentally-sensitive horsekeeping practices that we have used.

Oakwood Farm is a private property. Appointments may be made for a tour by calling 571.379.7514.

The Final Report of the Chesapeake Bay-Friendly Horse Farm Project

PWSWCD has been actively working with horse owners, teaching them about water quality and land stewardship with a targeted program in 1999. This latest project in the evolution of our outreach program establishes the first horse farm under contract to be used as a model. The expertise gained in the past ten years has culminated in the "extreme makeover" of this farm using both innovative and tested Best Management Practices that work for horse properties specifically. The farm owner has committed to a legal agreement to maintain the established practices at her expense for a ten year period and to support our outreach goals. The farm is being used to educate, motivate, and inspire improved land management techniques which benefit the environnment and in many ways may improve horse health.

Congratulatory letter from Senator Mark Warner.

The installation of Best Management Practices, also known as BMPs, began in late March 2009 and has continued through the completion in June 2010.
If you don't have time to read our lengthy reports, here's a quick guide to finding the topics of interest to you: (click on the heading to read the full reports and links to vendors and detailed information)

Project Background In the beginning there was a vision to assist the growing horse population in Prince William County.

Phase I
Installation of streamside buffer fencing
Insallation of the sacrifice area/bluestone dust confinement paddocks
Stream Assessment
Gutters and downspouts on the barn
Fencing around the sacrifice area paddocks
Gate Selection
Pasture renovation (southern pastures)
Automatic, non-electric, water trough installation
Interior fencing installation

Phase II
Stream buffer improvements
Runoff management in the sacrifice area
Nokesville Horse Society visit
Installation of high-tensile fencing
Modifications to the interior fencing

Phase III
Pasture renovation (northern pastures)

Snow Update
Automatic, non-electric, water trough performance in 18" of snow

Manure Management
O2 composter installation - manure management
Use of Stable Grid

Pasture Management

hay net feeding

Restrictive Feeding Techniques Using Hay Nets

Hay nets, round bale nets, hay boxes - If you have less than 2-3 acres of pasture turnout for each of your horses, you'll need to keep your horses off the pasture at different times of the year to keep the pasture from becoming damaged by overgrazing. Since horses evolved to graze constantly you may want to consider finding a way to offer your horses hay that mimics grazing. Horses with limited access to forage may develop ulcers, chew wood, crib, weave, or develop other undesirable behaviors. Read more about keeping your horses happy and healthy: Restrictive Free Feeding - designs and sources for buidling supplies. Need more help? Click Here.

Water Quality Improvement
Best Management Practices

DCR LogoThis project received funding from the Virginia Water Quality Improvement Fund provided by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), via grant number 2007-WQIF-19, and supported by many grant partners.

Photos of Oakwood Farm during Spring 2009 construction

before sacrifice area sacrifice after
Barnyard Before Construction Sacrifice Area After Construction
horse waterer before waterer after
Waterer Before Construction Waterer After Construction

Another testimonial from one of our clients who received assistance from our conservation specialist is getting started on the right foot with the development of their horse property.

"We're very thankful for all the assistance PWSWCD has provided - as first time horse farm owner's we are really going to benefit from all the expertise and help.  Your Conservation Specialist has shared a wealth of information, including soil analysis, fertilization planning, pasture management, and more.  She even brought an engineer out to the property to analyze water runoff and provide simple ways to manage erosion.  It's all helping us to prioritize our improvements, and make good investments in the property.  We can't wait to watch it all pay off!  Best of all, PWSWCD is an absolute pleasure to work with.  Thank you!" Brad and Emily Gardner

Support for Budding "Grass-Farmers" Cost Saving Opportunities through Services

horse in ideal pastureAre you already well on your way to creating green pastures and cleaner waters? If so, we'd like to recognize your efforts! The District has handsome(free!) metal signs that indicate your commitment to protecting community waters in your role as a District "Cooperator." We think they're a "must-have" for the environmentally conscious horse-keeper. Hang it on your farm with pride. Call the District if you've cooperated in the past, if you've been doing the right thing all along, or if you're ready to start earning your sign. We'd like to see them everywhere!

Embrace your vision for your horse property and achieve it on a budget! Here's what we can do for you...Whether you own a few acres, or a large farm, we offer FREE technical assistance to all Prince William County landowners. Any time is a good time to get started with improving your property, or developing your new property. We have the expertise to make your operation efficient in ease of use, effective in using the best tools for your situation, cost effective by giving you exact material recommendations and timing for implementation for your specific property. Call us at 571.379.7514, or e-mail nicoleethier@pwswcd.org.
Tips for Horse Owners and a 15 question quiz....what is your score?

Power Outage... be prepared for electrical outages at your horse facility

Don't get caught unprepared for an extended power outage. These publications will steer you in the right direction: Choosing and Installing a Emergency Generators, guidance from Northern Virginia Electric Cooperative and Farm Generator-Virginia Cooperative Extension publication.

Helpful Information

multi flora rose weed
Citizen's Action Directory for Water Quality in Prince William County
Soil Testing and Plant Analysis
Conservation Program and Financial Incentives
Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act and How it Affects Prince William County Horse Owners
Horse Owners Guide to Land Management for Clean Water
Horse Owners Guide to Water Quality Protection
Conservation Planning for Your Soil
Total Maximum Daily Loads
Weed Identification
Poisonous Weeds in Horse Pastures
Septic and Well Care
A Solution for Icy Waters
Equine Census Data
Agricultural Management Practices for Commercial Equine Operations
Horse Outreach Workgroup
Equine Land Conservation Resource's library of resources on land management
Sustainable Stables
Protect Your Property from Agricultural Run-off


horse pasture Pasture Management 101
Preventing Muddy Pastures: Use of a Sacrifice Area
Timely Tips for a Greener Spring/Springtime Pasture
Spring Rules to Graze By
A Timely Tip: Pasture Management March 1st to April 15th
Late Fall Pasture Management
Using Cool-Season Annuals to Extend the Grazing Season
Timely Tips for Winter-Wise Farm Management
Frost Seeding Clover
Weed Control in Pastures
Maintaining Healthy Horse Pastures
Pasture and Manure Management Information for Horse Owners from the Maryland Department of Agriculture

The best way to control weeds in your pasture is through encouraging a healthy stand of grass. A healthy sod will out compete weeds. For more information on improving the health of your pasture and reducing weeds without the use of pesticides email us or call 571.379.7514. For more information about the safe and appropirate use of pesticides VCE Pest Management Guide.

Facility Managementsimple wash stall

Getting your horse ready for a show or fair, rinsing away sweat after exercise, treating a wound, or just giving your horse a "day of beauty" is much more enjoyable when you have a properly functioning wash area. The following recommendations will guide you through the installation of an economical, practical, and environmentally-friendly outdoor wash stall, for five horses or less. Installing a Simple Outdoor Wash Stall

Manure Managementmanure composter

What do you do with all that manure? Pile it up just outside the barn door and try to ignore the ever growing “Muck Mountain?” What should you do? You need a plan for manure management that fits your operation: Manure Management on horse farms
Horse Manure Management

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