Your Horse (UK) - - Horsecare -

We’d all love our horses to have ac­cess to end­less acres of turnout, but this isn’t an op­tion for ev­ery owner. How­ever, us­ing your graz­ing wisely will help to repli­cate your horse’s nat­u­ral move­ment needs, as well as look­ing af­ter your graz­ing re­spon­si­bly. “My two favourite meth­ods are to set up a track sys­tem called Pad­dock Par­adise, or an Equi­cen­tral sys­tem. Both pro­mote healthy graz­ing and be­hav­iour pat­terns,” ex­plains Lau­ren. The Pad­dock Par­adise sys­tem (see di­a­gram, be­low) was de­signed by Jamie Jack­son, a far­rier de­ter­mined to keep his horses as nat­u­rally as pos­si­ble. In­stead of your horse be­ing turned out in a reg­u­lar field where he can stand in one spot and eat, an ad­di­tional in­ner fence is added to cre­ate a track. This mim­ics the be­hav­iour of wild horses, who eat, move on, rest, move on, and eat some more. You can al­low your horse onto the mid­dle sec­tion to graze for a few hours a day if he needs it, but for the rest of the time he’s on the track. The Equi­cen­tral sys­tem (see di­a­gram, above) re­quires a yard area con­nected to sev­eral pad­docks. Each pad­dock is ac­cessed by a sep­a­rate gate, but only one is opened at a time. The key to this con­cept is that wa­ter and shel­ter is pro­vided in the cen­tral yard area, so your horse has to walk be­tween the yard and pad­docks to graze or drink, en­cour­ag­ing healthy move­ment. Hav­ing wa­ter and shel­ter only avail­able in the yard area also re­duces the time your horse is graz­ing and helps to main­tain a well-veg­e­tated, healthy pas­ture. Both of th­ese sys­tems en­cour­age nat­u­ral move­ment. Horses in the wild travel around 16km a day on av­er­age and this is why, when your horse is sta­bled for long pe­ri­ods of time and the only turnout is in a small field, he be­gins to suf­fer phys­i­cally be­cause of a lack of move­ment. “Horses are ath­letes. They’ve evolved to be able to travel and thrive when al­lowed to do so,” ex­plains Lau­ren. “So it makes sense, if you want your horse to live more nat­u­rally, to pro­vide a way for him to utilise his body. A well-de­signed track sys­tem will go a long way to­wards em­u­lat­ing this move­ment.”

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