Where to start?
All the text books tell you that to establish a property plan you should try to obtain an areal photo of your property and use plenty of overlays to map the terrain (contour lines, water sheds, vegetation etc), but with only 2.5 acres (1 hectare) of land... is it worth it do go into that much detail? More than likely not, but if you had a bit more... like 50 acres (20 ha) it may be something to consider. Nevertheless though, you should still note which direction your water runs off, what type of soil predominates your property and how much and what type of vegetation is on your property.
Luckily, I have been able to find a 'from far above' picture of our property and with some tweaking I now do have a somewhat usable 'aerial' photo of our 2.5 acres. It is a bit out of date as it doesn't show the pool that was put in by the previous owners 3 years ago, plus some of the structures towards the back of the property were changed or removed, so... not quite accurate, but for my purposes more than sufficient.
Our property has predominately a sandy loam type of soil though in places more sand than loam. It has been selectively cleared and with a significant number of trees towards the back of the property which puts any grass growing their in permanent dapple shade. Very nice in summer, but no good if you want to grow pasture. The grass growing is mainly couch with a few tussocks of Rhodes grass. Not much of a pasture, more something to keep the boys occupied.
The property slopes from North-East to South-West. It didn't look like much of a slope, but when we had an unexpected downpour we noticed that the water was running off quite quickly and took with it some topsoil. This is an important fact to consider when planning the paddocks as the manure may be washed into a waterway or dam.
Keen to get the boys onto our property, we needed to decide where to put fences. The first fence we put up divided the property into a front and back section to be able to get them home. But... this isn't a satisfactory solution as the horses will move all over the place. It's amazing what destructive powers are in those hooves when it comes to land. So, to prevent too much land degradation more paddocks needed to be established to allow rotation through them.
In getting a workable paddock layout, I also needed to consider watering points, where to put gates, and where the 'sacrifice yard' should be. Paddock size was also an important fact to consider. Here it depends a bit on how much you ride/exercise your horses as they will need exercise. If you have a huge paddock you don't need to exercise your horse that much, but if you have small ones, you need to keep them exercised every day. So how much time do you have at hand to exercise your horses?
I am lucky and am a stay at home wife so I can exercise my boys in one form or another every day, so I decided to have my paddocks a bit on the smaller side, but no smaller than 30x60m to allow the boys at least some space to play. I also decided that I wanted at least 4 paddocks with one being the sacrifice yard and it itself being divided into a feeding yard and a riding yard.
So ... this is what I came up with. Check out more photos of the paddocks here or continue on to Fencing.