Creating the Right Environment
Creating the Right Environment for Success.
Many people are having great success using a 'track' system.
This is quite simple to achieve by using electric fencing to create a track around the perimeter of a field. The horses are then able to move freely around this track.
This has the added advantage of leaving an attractive green area in the middle of the field that can be used for making hay or riding.
Hay / haylage is placed at points around the track to encourage movement. There may also be a shelter with a hard standing area, and of course at least one point for water.
The track can be further enhanced by adding different surfaces such as pea gravel, sand, river stones etc. This will all help with conditioning the horse's feet.
Photos courtesy of Rockley Farm
You can find out more about track systems from Jaime Jacksons book 'Paddock Paradise'.
You will also find links at the bottom of this page to sites that are using track systems.
However, many of us are not able to put this into practice - we don't own our own land, we keep our horses at livery, there are rules to be followed.
What can we do then?
If at all possible try and find / create an area where your horse can be off grass for part of the day. This can be a yard, barn, dry lot, unused paths, where you can feed ad lib hay / haylage.
It may be that you have to stable your horse some of the time. If this is the case you will have to give your horse plenty of exercise to make up for the lack of movement.
Very often if a horse is footy (shod or bare) taking it off grass completely for a few days will show a vast improvement.
With our own horses we went from 24/7 turnout on grass paddocks to being in overnight and out during the day. (although they would benefit more from being out overnight as the fructans levels in grass are lower at night). The difference was quite staggering. they went from o.k. to rock crunching in a very short space of time. (They are now out 24/7 on a track system through the summer and on the middle of the field through the winter. However this grassland is less 'improved' than that they had previously)
All horses are different and show different levels of sensitivity to grass. You will have to judge your own horse and decide just how much grass he can tolerate.
The following photos show the type of challenging ground that we regularly hack over without any problems.
Who says Thoroughbreds can't go barefoot?
Cuckoo is wearing her Renegade hoofboots in front today as we're going at least 12 miles.
Dameg (the black ears trying very hard to stand still) never uses her boots anymore!
Both horses will happily canter over these stony paths.
Links to others using track systems: