Instead of giving your horse access to the entire pasture during the winter, create a sacrifice area. A sacrifice area is a small enclosure such as a paddock, corral or pen that gives your horse a chance to get outside during the winter without damaging your pastures. It is called a sacrifice area because you are giving up the use of that small portion of land as a grassy area to save the rest of your pastures.
During the winter, plants stop growing and, if allowed,horses will continue to graze pastures down until little grass remains. Soon you’ll be left with bare spots that will turn to mud with the wet weather. In addition, when horses walk on wet or soggy pastures, the soil is pressed down, compacting it by squeezing out the space between soil particles and eliminating the pockets of air that allow roots to grow and water/fertilizer to penetrate. Finally, horse’s hooves, even without shoes, can trample existing plants and dig up divots of dirt allowing weeds to move in.
Choose a site that is slightly elevated with dry, well drained soil, at least 20 feet wide by 20 feet long - more if you have the room to allow your horse room to trot. Use gravel, hog fuel or stall mats to help keep the area mud free. Sacrifice area should be at least 20 feet wide by 20 feet long - larger is better to give horses more room to exercise. Add safe fencing and access to fresh water and your sacrifice area is ready.
Limit your horse to a sacrifice area during the winter so they’ll have plenty of lush pasture in the spring.