Paddock Paradise / Horse Track System
An explanation of the Paddock Paradise / equine track system concept as offered by Total Contact
Total Contact are offering an advice service that helps clients to plan, and develop, their own Paddock Paradise/horse track systems for their horses and the horses of others. In doing so we recognise that we need to explain about this concept an inform possible clients how we interpret it as well as what value we can add to their own experience and understanding.
For us a Paddock Paradise / equine track system is not an alternative to traditional turnout. It’s a lifestyle choice that you make with your horse(s). There may be times – especially in a UK winter – when you’ll rue the day you ever decided to embark on this path, however, the rewards for your horse and you are enormous. Not only will you become a greater part of your herd able to watch them interact with each other, have the great satisfaction of developing your track and knowing that you’re doing a great job for the horses on it but your horses will develop physically, emotionally and socially.
In essence a track system is a fenced off area in an area of the landscape that the horses move around. It is highly individual in design and can depend on the natural features in your area – hills, streams, banks, ditches, hedges etc – and the track will have wide areas for ‘loafing’ around on the part of the horses as well as narrow pathways to keep them moving. It will probably have a shelter of some kind for the very hot – or cold and wet – days, a water supply, feeding stations, limited access to ad-lib grass, well thought out planting for health and foraging, a variety of surfaces for the horses to walk on and yes, mud is a surface and they don’t mind it so long as there are other places that they can get to that aren’t too muddy ! You may start off with a set design and range of track assets / areas of interest and activity but you’ll want to develop these as funds become available – it’s always a consideration isn’t it ! – and your imagination and understanding of the system develops.
The health benefits for the horses are clear:
- Better limb health as they are moving more
- Better foot/hoof health due to the restricted access to grass and specific planting on your track as well as movement across a range of surfaces
- A more socialised herd with a distinct hierarchy that they all understand – some may challenge it from time to time but that tells you something of the herd dynamics and the horse development and is nothing to be worried about (it’s natural !)
- A herd more able to be out in all weathers – their coats are made to drip water away, to keep them warm in winter and they’ll shed it when needed and grow it when needed
- A better regime to cater for the horse with health conditions such as laminitis, PPID, intermittent lameness issues and navicular syndrome as planting for health, limited access to high sugar grass pasture and gentle exercise all help these conditions
The Total Contact service will include:
- A report on your chosen area
- Assistance with design and suggestions on fencing, surface, shelter, feed station options that can grow as you develop your own confidence
- Advice on horizontal and vertical grazing and planting of simple plants and herbs for health and a variety of conditions
- This will all be done by a site visit and discussions with you about your aims for the project. We will draw on personal experience and understanding drawn from a range of sources and other track systems
- The cost of the service will depend on the size of your allotted area and we’ll only charge travel costs at cost. We will always quote in advance.
Paddock Paradise / equine track systems are an alternative to traditional stabling and varying degrees of turnout. They are not a new type of turnout – although in some circumstances a winter and a summer track may be the solution to some client’s needs. They won’t be the solution and suit all horse owners, however, they will suit (most) horses ! Life is about compromises. Traditional stabling is about compromises made ABOUT the horse. Track systems are about compromises made FOR the horse. We know that for some those compromises will be a step too far, however, we also think that with some understanding it may not be. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone on 0779 2722625 to discuss your needs. Have a look at our March feature in the Natural Horsemanship Journal Horsemandship Journal article March 2015 and this research study into the effects of stabling horses KYarnell_equine housing_Physiology and behaviour_2015