Saturday, August 23, 2014

"What Is Your Favorite Thing You Do With Your Horse?"

Howdy Friends! 

 What is the one thing you enjoy doing most with your horse?
My favorite thing, just being with her ...

Okay,my second is trail riding, bird and butterfly watching .....

Gitty Up ~ Dutch Henry

Monday, August 18, 2014

"Paddock Paradise and the Track System For The Health Of Your Horse"

Howdy Friends,

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.
Great track system - notice how you can add fun little obstacles to keep them thinking.
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.
A simple example of a track system
Many times folks say, "It looks too inconvenient or expensive to set up." To that I say, in the long run, and even the not so long run, it will be far less expensive than vet bills, injuries, and anguish – the person's and the horse's – and missed riding and competing dates due to injuries. Yes the track system works for shod as well as barefoot horses … and folks who know me know I believe every horse should be barefoot. One very wrong answer to the "too much grass" syndrome is to confine their horses in stalls, use frustrating grazing muzzles, small paddocks or "sacrifice" lots. Rubbish all. None of these things are either natural to a horse, or healthy to their bodies or minds. Let the horses roam at will, I say.
Just roaming along, because we can.
Paddock Paradise, or the track system, incorporates every aspect of a horse's natural and instinctive urge and desire to be on the move. Explained briefly, the track system is a track 10 to 20 feet wide inside your already existing big pasture, (which may have too much grass) with various footings such as dirt, pea gravel and rocks. Also incorporated within the track are wide places for play, sleeping and rolling, as well as various hay feeding stations and watering locations, and run ins, strategically placed to encourage movement. Many folks add mud holes, streams and bridges to help their horses overcome issues, or just for fun.
Hay feeding stations and water should be scattered about to encourage movement.
Your track can be any design that fits your land, plan, and budget. I once saw a terrific track on an acre and a half rocky, grassy hillside that offered long winding trails instead of just a useless hang out spot.
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.
Here is a good example of a field that is conducive to creating all sorts of health problems, but can easily be turned into a Paddock Paradise by simply running a track system around the border full of entertaining obstacles, watering and feeding stations.
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.
The Paddock Paradise, and track system is the easiest, best choice for maintaining a healthy horse and healthy hooves. Combined with proper all forage diet, limited vaccinations and very limited chemical de-worming (I recommend fecal counts, have not wormed Kessy chemically for 3 years, I do use herbs though), the track system will create rock crushing hooves, and a happy healthy horse.
Don't forget to make a wide soft place for napping.
For the health and happiness of horses everywhere it is my hope many more people begin to see horse care from the horse's perspective.

Gitty Up ~ Dutch Henry