Best Management Practices
for Horse Properties
Equestrian properties in southern California differ drastically from the sprawling, expansive properties found in other portions of the United States. Generally, horse properties in southern California are less than five acres and house multiple horses. Multiple large animals on relatively small properties can cause significant resource issues to arise if not managed properly. Muddy areas, flies, stormwater runoff and drainage, and pasture management are common issues that affect equestrian properties in southern California. Management of these issues is imperative to protect the health and safety of horses and the surrounding environment.
The District offers free conservation plans for equestrian properties in the San Luis Rey watershed. Conservation plans address resource related issues on a property and are tailored to provide solutions on a property specific basis. A Certified Conservation Planner walks the property with the owner and discusses any resource concerns present. A report is developed that includes Best Management Practices (BMPs) to help control and manage the resource concerns (including mud areas, manure management, and pasture management).
Assessing Equestrian Properties
Owners and managers of equestrian properties can develop a sense of what resource concerns may apply to their operation by completing the Equestrian Property BMP Checklist. This checklist can help identify areas or issues on an equestrian property that can be potentially problematic. Appropriate BMPs to control or minimize the issues are also given.
Horse Property BMP Examples
The following examples are different BMPs that can be implemented on equestrian properties to help control erosion, drainage issues, mud, flies, weeds and other concerns. Many more examples and educational materials can be found at the bottom of this page.
Wood chips can be used on access roads to prevent erosion and protect the roadbed.
All Horse Property BMP Example Photos by Vic Smothers.
For Technical and Financial Assistance for Equestrian Properties:
Natural Resources Conservation Service
The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) provides free conservation technical assistance to private landowners and organizations. The Conservation Technical Assistance Program (CTA) is available to all groups or individuals interested in conserving natural resources and sustaining equestrian properties. CTA aids landowners in addressing opportunities and concerns related to natural resources on their land. Assistance may be in the form of resource assessment, practice design, resource monitoring, or follow-up of installed practices.
For more information on CTA, visit the Conservation Technical Assistance webpage or contact your local USDA Service Center.
The USDA Service Center serving San Diego County residents is the Escondido Service Center located at:
900 Canterbury Place, Suite 320
Escondido, CA 92025
Phone: (760) 745-2061
Fax: (760) 745-3210
Equestrian Property BMPs Resources
- A Horse Keepers Guide
- Ag Mgmt Practices for Commercial Equine Facilities
- Backyard Ranches Brochure
- BMPs for Horse Pastures, Paddocks and Stables
- BMPS to Reduce Non-Point Pollution at Horse Facilities
- Equestrine-Related Best Management Practices
- Equine Pasture Management
- Horse Keeping manual Horse Owners Guide to Water Quality Protection
- Horse Paddocks - Designed and Managed
- Managing Manure - The Role of Riparian Buffers
- Managing Small Acreage Horse Farms
- Pellet Bedding
- Photo-Monitoring for Equestrian Facilities
- Seeding Recommendations for the Bay Area
- Stormwater Runoff Management at High Use Areas
- The Unmaking of Mud
- Water Quality and Horse Keeping Facilities