Good Day Folks! Those of you with horses know that keeping the hooves trimmed up correctly is essential to keeping horses! No hoof = No horse and all that. But did you know that wild horses travel up to 20 and even 30 MILES a DAY in search of food and water and in the process keep themselves trimmed up nicely?
Those hooves are rockin' it!
(Photo courtesy of Jaime Jackson, Paddock Paradise)
And that's sort of a pun, I guess (albeit maybe a poor one) ...
Yes. Those wild horses move miles and miles and miles a day and, in doing so, keep their own hooves in great shape.
That, as a fact, should cause us all who own horses to stop and think, seriously, about how much our own horses move in a day. I know mine don't move nearly close to 20 miles a day. In fact, if they get in a dozen miles a day I'd be surprised!
How can we busy horse owners help our horses get more miles in a 24 hour period of time to help keep those hooves in maximum health? We certainly can't ride 20 miles a day. There's just no time. I suppose if we had an endless flow of cash coming in we could probably hire a couple or few people to come in and ride those miles every day. But wait ... there is a very simple solution to this dilemma.
We could all spend a few extra dollars, a bit of elbow grease and time and, instead of having small paddocks or open areas for grazing, we can put in a Track System.
In 2007 Jaime Jackson, an internationally known hoofcare provider (former farrier) published a book called "Paddock Paradise". This book goes into detail of how to help horses get the most miles per day even if they are on just an acre of land. Now, across the globe, one can see 'track systems', aka Paddock Paradises, across the lands. Horse owners are finding their horses' hooves are keeping themselves trimmed, balanced and are rock crunching beauties to behold!
The benefits of a track system are many, including:
--Encourages more natural movement.
--More natural movement means more naturally shaped, healthy hooves.
--Protects horses from dangerous laminitis prone pastures.
--Minimizes the need for warm-up exercise time before riding.
--Facilitates natural socialization between horses.
--Provides an effective means for diet and weight management.
and much more.
The studies that Jaime Jackson did between1982 and 1986 showed that:
"... feral horses rarely suffered from hoof problems such as laminitis or navicular which commonly affect our domestic horses."
That's something to be re-read and thought about with serious consideration of movement of the horse (as well as diet).
If your horse is challenged with tenderness, imbalances, needing frequent trimming, repeated bouts of laminitis or "navicular", you might want to seriously look into setting a track system for your horse.
All-Natural-Horse-Care says this:
"Instead of housing our horses in regular square or oblong fields where they just stand in one spot and eat, and eat, and eat, an additional "inside" fence is added to create a "track" system. See diagram on right.
The track width can vary - the narrower the track the more the horses will move. However you don't want it too narrow if you have more than 2 horses as one may get cornered by a more dominant horse.
Now this may sound like a lot of work and expense but it can be done quite cheaply and quickly using electric fencing and is well worth the effort when you see how much happier and healthier your horse is."
Here are a couple of other images I scoffed off an internet search:
Photo from Paddock Paradise Track System Facebook Group with the following comment:
"The width of the track will vary depending upon what it is used for - not due to the number of horses on it. Those parts of the track used for 'forward movement,' to travel from one destination to another, will be more narrow than those areas of interest or activities (eating, rolling, camping, drinking, etc.) It may also depend upon the terrain and how many trees or shrubs/bushes are located along the track. The track should be about 3 meters or 9 feet wide for areas of forward movement and open up into areas that can be 30 feet wide (10 meters wide) for placing a variety of hay nets or a sand pile for resting/camping/rolling.
When first creating the track, people can start out a bit wider if there is any concern about the horses becoming used to it and then, over time (after several months), make it more narrow."
"Paddock Paradise" is a well-read book on my library shelves. Now that we're setting up a new farm we are seriously considering putting in a track system for the critters. If we do, I'll keep y'all posted. Visa versa ... if YOU already have a track system then let me know how it works for you and your guys. I'd love to know!
Gwenyth Browning Jones Santagate is the best-selling author of 10 Secrets to Healthy Hooves as well as a noted author for various international equine publications including The Horses Hoof, Equine Wellness, Natural Horse Planet as well as a contributing author for the 2001 United States Federal Mounted Border Patrol Training Manual. For the last 37+ years, she has maintained healthy hooves with natural trimming on thousands of horses and specialized in pathological rehabilitation hoof care for the last 20 years. She and her husband John keep a small herd of their own equine in SW Florida and continue to offer consults for horses in need. You can email to Gwen -- firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone in the US (774)-280-4227 NEW PHONE). For further information please click here: www.thepenzancehorse.com