Field setup and why it is crucial to keep our horses happy and healthy.
Are you creating a space that makes your horse more herd-bound, lazy, or overweight? These issues can all impact the herd behaviour and each horse’s physical fitness. These issues can be addressed in their field/paddock.
Paddock setup where the horse can see other horses tends to result in becoming more herd bound. A lot of paddocks are set up with the shelter, round bales or hay feeder all clumped together by the gate. This is a concern because it limits the amount of movement the horse has to do. Setups like these allow the horses to become attached and get worried when the others get taken out of the paddock and run more of a risk of laziness and obesity.
A simple way to help arrange your paddock in a manner that is beneficial to your horses is to place a run-in where they can walk all the way around, placing your water far enough away from your hay so that they have to move to eat and drink. Another great way to arrange your paddocks is what’s called a track system. I have noticed with a track system that horses who need to lose a few pounds slim down because they are encouraged to wander more. The track system also helps you to be able to section off the grass areas for better rotation.
So, what is a track system? It is a typical square or rectangle-shaped field with a smaller square inside the larger square. This way, the horse is basically walking on a track around the field’s perimeter, which doesn’t allow them to take a shortcut and cut across the middle. This promotes more movement. Some will also put obstacles along the path, like logs, to promote different levels of exercise.
Once the parameter is worn down, it will make a dirt paddock or what some call a sacrifice paddock. This is now a place where you can lock the horses in to let the grass grow or if it is muddy or slippery out. This is the best way to allow your grass paddocks to grow and maintain quality fields for your horses. This specifically helps when each horse has less than 1 acre of its own to graze. If a track system isn’t feasible, having some sacrifice paddock is well worth it.
Giving your horse as much opportunity to graze and roam is ultimately healthier for the horse, builds confidence, and maintains grass paddocks for extended grazing periods. However, this all comes at the cost of another whole fencing system.
Drop us a comment. I would love to know if you or you know anybody who’s tried this, if it was successful and how that foal is doing.