Last Updated on February 22, 2022 by Allison Price
The track system, which is a new way to manage horses in paddocks and is gaining popularity in the horse world, offers an alternative method. Lauren Johnson from Graveney Equine explains the track system and what it can do for your horse.
Owners are always looking for ways to help their horses live a more natural life, with EMS, laminitis and obesity being’man-made’ conditions.
We want horses to move more, graze and browse on suitable forage and have herd dynamics that allow them to eat, rest, groom, and play together.
One method is the track system, also known as a paddock paradis. This is a way to manage horses that is based on their natural behavior.
Tracks are a network of paths that run through or around pasture. They encourage horses to roam and look for new opportunities, whether it be for shade, forage, water or scratching.
This doesn’t necessarily mean abandoning horses or leaving them alone. It means that they should be able to replicate the aspects of their home that are beneficial for their health.
This is a key component of increased movement. A healthy horse is one that lives in harmony with nature.
These are the things we want to see in our horses. Movement is good for building muscle, burning fat, stimulating the hooves, and keeping the gut active.
We are helping the horse be as fit and mobile as possible.
Enjoy the benefits
I try to observe the “boom and bust” feeding cycle of wild horses. This means that horses should be allowed to lose weight in winter so that any summer weight won’t cause problems.
This is done by making horses work harder and spending more time searching for food, as they would naturally do in the wild.
Horses can also spend time together on the track, which has many benefits.
They need to be able to share their experiences with other species in order to feel safe, entertained and camaraderie.
This decreases stress, which in turn makes them more calm in interactions with people and also makes them feel more confident.
I am often asked if horses are more likely to be herded-bound if they are in a herd. However, I find the opposite after a period of settling down.
Research has shown that chronic stress can lead to increased cortisol levels. This can eventually lead to illness. So the better we can help our horses, the happier they will be.
How to do it
Is it possible to implement the track system? If so, how can you do it?
Track systems are extremely adaptable and can be used in many situations. This track system is used in our yard to allow us to commit to layout, design, enrichment. However, it can be simplified for those who live on rented land or at a horse stable.
Although my first track was a simple loop around the edge of a 1-acre field, it was a significant improvement for my horse within a few months.
I spent a few hundred pounds on fencing and an energiser. This system can be used in any location you have horses.