Have you ever watched horses together in a field or paddock? How do they interact when confined in a small space? Is their behaviour different when they’re out in a big field together? Let’s look at different horse paddock sizes to get an idea of how much space horses need.

For paddocks used only for turnout (no grazing), some people consider a minimum of 0.1 of an acre as being adequate for one horse.

### 1 acre = 43,560 square feet = 4,840 square yards = 4047 square metres

**1. What fraction of an acre provides an adequate amount of paddock space for one horse?**

**2. How many square feet of paddock space are adequate for a horse? Round your answer to the nearest ten.**

**3. How many square yards of paddock space are adequate for a horse? Round your answer to the nearest ten. **

Anther horse owner finds that an enclosure of about 20-30 feet wide x 100 feet long is enough to allow her horses the ability to run or play in their paddock.

**4. Does a paddock with dimensions 20 feet by 100 feet meet the 0.1 of an acre minimum requirement?**

**5. If a paddock is 100 feet long, how wide would it have to be to meet the minimum requirement? Round your answer to the nearest whole number.**

One horse owner shared that she keeps her mare in a turnout paddock around 150 feet x 80 feet, commenting that her mare has plenty of room to run around.

**6. Is this mare’s turnout paddock < or > 0.1 acres?**

So far the paddock sizes discussed have been for a horse turned out alone. We know that horses are social animals, and it’s important for their health to spend time with other horses. What happens when horses share a paddock? One study looked at paddock size and how it affects horses’ social interactions.

Polish researchers observed 78 riding school horses, divided into three groups, over two periods in two situations. Two of the three groups spent daylight hours outdoors in their groups in a paddock, and the third group stayed outdoors permanently.

**7. Assuming each group has the same number of horses, how many horses are in each group? **

In the first period, which lasted two months, the paddock was small, square, and sandy, with a surface area of about 150 to 180 square meters (1,600 to 1,950 square feet) per horse.

**8. Assuming an area of 150 sq m per horse, what was the total area of the paddock in the first test period?**

In the second period, the horses roamed in a larger, irregularly shaped pasture with grassy areas. These larger pastures offered about 3,000 square meters (32,300 square feet) per horse.

**9.** **What was the total area of the paddock in the second test period?**

**10. Approximately how many acres was the field for the second test period? Round your answer to the nearest whole number.**

### What did the researchers observe?

Both aggressive and friendly behaviour was reduced across all three groups when moving the horses from the small paddock to the large paddock.

The number of aggressive interactions were about the same across all three groups. However, they did notice that the third group—which stayed outdoors even at night—had twice as many positive interactions as the other two groups. Breed might have also played a role, the researchers said, as the third group was made up mostly of Shetland ponies. *A future research project perhaps?*

The researchers recognized that the availability of grass, in addition to paddock size, may also have affected the results. The horses in the small sand paddocks gathered in small groups when food was distributed and often had aggressive interactions fighting over the food. However, on the grass paddock the horses spread out and interacted far less.

Next time you watch horses in a field together you may find yourself thinking more deeply about what you are observing. Do any questions arise as you watch? Maybe some day you’ll be in a position to do some research of your own!

1. What fraction of an acre provides an adequate amount of paddock space for a horse?

Answer:

0.1 = 1/10. One tenth of an acre provides an adequate amount of paddock space per horse.

2. How many square feet of paddock space are adequate for a horse? Round your answer to the nearest ten.

Answer:

1/10 × 43,560 sq ft = 43,560 sq ft ÷ 10 = 4,356 sq ft.

OR 0.1 × 43,560 sq ft = 4,356 sq ft. Rounding to the nearest ten: Approximately 4,360 square feet of paddock space is considered the minimum for a horse.

3. How many square yards of paddock space are adequate for a horse? Round your answer to the nearest ten.

Answer:

1/10 × 4,840 sq yd = 4,840 sq yd ÷ 10 = 484 sq yd.

OR 0.1 × 4,840 sq yd = 484 sq yd. Rounding to the nearest ten: Approximately 480 square yards of paddock space is considered the minimum for a horse.

4. Does a paddock with dimensions 20 feet by 100 feet meet the 0.1 of an acre minimum requirement?

Answer: 20 ft × 100 ft = 2000 sq ft. This does not meet the minimum requirement.

5. If a paddock is 100 feet long, how wide would it have to be to meet the minimum requirement? Round your answer to the nearest whole number.

Answer: I used X to represent the unknown paddock width

100 ft × X = 4,356 sq ft

X = 4,356 sq ft ÷ 100 ft

X = 43.56 ft

Rounding to the nearest whole number: The paddock would need to be 44 ft wide to meet the recommended minimum requirement.

6. Is this mare’s turnout paddock < or > 0.1 acres?

Answer: 150 feet × 80 feet = 12,000 square feet. This mare’s turnout paddock was > 0.1 acres.

7. Assuming each group has the same number of horses, how many horses are in each group?

Answer: 78 (total number of horses) ÷ 3 (number of groups) = 26. Twenty-six horses were in each group.

8. Assuming an area of 150 sq m per horse, what was the total area of the paddock in the first test period?

Answer: 26 (total number of horses) × 150 sq m = 3,900 sq m. The total area of the paddock was 3,900 sq m.

9. What was the total area of the paddock in the second test period?

US Customary: 26 × 32,300 square feet = 839,800 sq ft.

Metric Answer: 26 × 3,000 sq m = 78,000 sq m.

10. Approximately how many acres was the field for the second test period? Round your answer to the nearest whole number.

US Customary: 839,800 sq ft ÷ 43,560 sq feet/acre = 19.28 acres.

Metric: 78,000 sq m ÷ 4047 sq m/acre = 19.27 acres. Rounding to the nearest whole number: The paddock for the second test period was approximately 19 acres.

Photos:

Horses in field; Public Domain

Putting on Halter by Deborah Stacey; CC BY 4.0

Horses in pasture; Public Domain

Mares & foals by Deborah Stacey; CC BY 4.0

Common Core:

4.OA.A.3 – Rounding

4.NF.C – Understand decimal notation for fractions, and compare decimal fractions.

5.NF.B – Apply and extend previous understandings of multiplication and division to multiply and divide fractions.

6.EE.B – Reason about and solve one-variable equations and inequalities.