Paddock Paradise the Natural Way to Keep Your Horse
Paddock Paradise the Natural Way to Keep Your Horse By barefoot horse owner Sophie Bennetts
Provided by Lindsay Setchell, Barefoot Trimmer in Devon
I first heard about the paddock paradise system just over a year ago on advice from Lindsay. Having grown up with fat ponies I was well aware of the effects that too much grass could have on them, it seemed like the obvious solution. Fast forward a year and all my horses live permanently on a track system at a local livery yard. They have their track around the outside of a 2 acre field, currently with 6 of them on it, just a dirt surface with various natural rocky sections and natural shelter from hedges and trees.
The ad-lib hay is fed from the floor, spread out around the track and this works well in the summer, but for the winter I've had to experiment with feeders to keep the hay from being mixed in with the mud. I like them to have access to the hedgerows so there are plenty of different things for them to browse through, and have also provided them with salt and mineral blocks, which are put by the water trough and in other places that they hang out. The middle of the paddock is left, when dry enough it makes a perfect area to play with the horses and when grown in the summer, is cut for hay.
The problem of the track has been the mud and as it is not my land I cannot put down different surfaces. But as the farm has a series of springs that pop up each time it rains, there is mud whether on a track or in a field.
Finding suitable fencing has also been another test for me, mainly because of Houdini pony Rio, who seems to only respect post and rail fencing. Each time there was a fault in the fence I would find him in the middle, so after a bit of trial and error and lots more escaping from Rio, we dug under the track and connected the middle up to the farms mains power supply, that, along with the new electric fencing tape, has kept him in with the rest of the herd.
My challenge of this winter was getting enough hay to last, unfortunately my hay supplier ran out before Christmas and understandable with the cold weather, no one wanted to sell their hay. The one thing I did find was lots of haylage, although sceptical I decided to give it a try and see how they got on. The quality of the bales I received were variable, and although the horses loved it, it was not for them or their hooves, probably being the equivalent of them having a field full of grass!
I quickly swapped them back to hay which returned everything to normal, for next time I have learnt to get my forage tested.I have found there are many benefits of having a track system, with the continual momentum of the herd, I don’t have to worry about giving them enough exercise as they exercise themselves! Their hooves are looking great and I don’t reallyhave to do much trimming as they are now starting to selftrim.I have honestly never seenany of my horses looking so fit and healthy year-round and have witnessed amazing changes to the horses that have joined the herd.
To learn more about how to set up a track system read ‘Paddock Paradise - A Guide to Natural Horse Boarding’
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