Horses love to move about. Jamie Jackson, after years of studying and observing wild hoses not only gained a vast understanding of the natural way of the horse, and their feet which he was instrumental in bringing to the horse world, but he also learned how horses move in the wild. He put his observations on horse movement, travels, health and habits into his book he titled, "Paddock Paradise," I highly recommend it. You can buy his book here on Amazon – in it he clearly explains his observations and details how anyone, anywhere, can create a track system for their horses. You can also make a lot of friends on the Paddock Paradise facebook page who have implemented this practice for their own horses. (Photos for this story provided by Paddock Paradise FB)
One of the many things Jamie observed, noted and proved, was that horses left to their own choices in the wild, move in regular tracks. They have well established routes, or tracks, for grazing areas, watering, resting, foraging and even playing, and they don't graze in lush grass, they nibble and browse, while moving. It is these known facts that he incorporated into his idea of Paddock Paradise, and many folks have adopted. I believe it is the most natural and healthiest way to house and keep a horse.
The track system goes hand in hand with maintaining a
barefoot horse's feet, strong, beautiful, and healthy. Movement is a key ingredient
to the barefoot paradigm, and nothing I have ever seen encourages movement like
the track system. Lush grass, lazy grazing is as unnatural to a horse as couch
potato sitting and gorging is to humans … but we lazy humans force it on our
horses, and then wonder about a plethora of health issues. Stalls, barns and
shoes are a human convenience, not a horse first philosophy.
|Great track system - notice how you can add fun little obstacles to keep them thinking.|
|A simple example of a track system|
|Just roaming along, because we can.|
|Hay feeding stations and water should be scattered about to encourage movement.|
Many folks, when they set up their first track, simply use step in posts with electric fence, easy and very affordable, and if the horses escape the track, they're still within the original pasture. Of course the original grass pasture can be opened for limited grazing with far less risk of over eating and all the health problems associated with the high sugar content of most pasture and field grasses.
Another common rejection to creating the track system is, "We have all this grass and we can't afford to not use it." Some folks then bale it or even graze a few cows on it. Sometimes it takes years for the symptoms of sugar related health issues to show up in horses, but don't be fooled, eventually symptoms are likely to occur – often not connected to the true cause of too much grass and not enough movement.
|Bottom of my mare, Kessy's, foot - She roams her Paddock Paradise all day and all night.|
|Don't forget to make a wide soft place for napping.|
Gitty Up ~ Dutch Henry