Build Your Horse a Pasture Paradise
 By Winniefield Park   •   27th Feb 2014   •   2,475 views   •   1 comments
Caring horse owners have always done their best to keep their horses safe, healthy and happy. As we learn more about the natural needs and habits of horses, we've been able to adjust how we look after them. We now understand that keeping a horse in a stable might not be the healthiest option, and that certain feeds aren't as good for our horses as we once thought. And some owners have designed their pastures to mimic the natural travel patterns and terrain that wild horses would experience. Called Pasture Paradises, these spaces are more than just a square with a perimeter of fencing.

Former farrier, Jaime Jackson built the first pasture paradise in an attempt to fulfill the inherent habits and requirements of his own horses. Jackson felt that an open field could be better utilized to encourage horses to move naturally between their food, water and shelter by building a track system. He designed tracks to encourage horses to move through the various features and terrain. Putting tracks through wet or rough areas contributes to hoof and leg health, while hilly tracks build muscle and fitness. Traveling further to get to their resources also enhances condition.

If you watch a group of horses in a pasture for a time, you'll soon recognize that they are very economical about traveling between their feed, the water trough and the shade or shelter. Often, they wear a path because they travel in exactly the same place each time. They tend to avoid wet or rocky areas, and skirt around or traverse hills at an angle. As a result, some parts of a pasture will become badly overgrazed, damaged and compacted. Other areas will be unused. The tracks of a pasture paradise can solve these problems. Tracks can be set up to avoid, or encourage grazing in certain areas. A track might make horses take a steeper climb up a hill, or around a boggy area that would be damaged by their hooves. Tracks can also discourage fence walkers or horses from standing in one spot and compacting the soil so that nothing grows.

The tracks of the pasture paradise are built using easily installed electric fence. Using simple push -in stakes and a portable charger means that fences can be easily moved or repaired. If your budget allows, you can even build features to route horses through. You could make things like length of gravel track to help harden up hooves or dig out a wet spot to build a small pond horses must travel through.

Your pasture paradise will start with a map of your existing pastures and paddocks, with all the natural and man-made features, normal paths and standing areas our horses use, drawn in. Then, you can start drawing in the tracks that will route horses through areas you want them to use and avoid areas that you want to keep them out of. Because the fencing is portable, you can change your tracks at any time, such as when one area becomes damaged, or overgrazed.

There're lots of ideas for pasture paradises online, and a great book by Jaime Jackson if you want to explore the idea further. Do you see the benefits of a pasture paradise? Or, do you see any pitfalls in the idea?

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