The Track System
As anyone who has kept ponies, cobs or "good doers" will know, they only have to look at a blade of grass to put on weight, and managing their turn out is a constant battle. If you’ve tried strip grazing, muzzles, and restricted grazing, and have ended up with an animal who has learnt to gorge itself stupid at any given chance or who is downright miserable, the Track System could be the solution you’re looking for..
What is the Track System?
A track system or 'Paddock Paradise' is an exciting new way of keeping horses that was created by Jaime Jackson. Instead of turning out 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". See the diagram below.
How did it evolve?
Jackson, a former farrier, undertook studies between 1982 and 1986 of feral horses interacting in their natural environment and studying how they live in the wild. He observed how wild horses travel great distances along familiar tracks each day and the Track System he created simply tries to mimic this.
How does it work?
The track encourages the horse to forage as they would naturally. It’s this foraging and increased movement that also stimulates the horses and prevents boredom, which they may experience in a traditional paddock or whilst stabled.
The track width can vary. The narrower the track, the more the horse will be inclined to keep moving. However, don't make it too narrow if you have more than one horse in the field.
When should a Track System be used?
A track system is perfect for horses and ponies of all ages, breeds and heights, and especially those that are prone to weight gain, laminitis/Cushing’s, arthritis, boredom, and other diseases and illnesses caused by the high sugar and starch levels found in grass.
How much does it cost to do?
The design can be as simple as running temporary fence along the perimeter fence of a field to create a narrow alleyway. This can be put in quite cheaply and quickly using plastic fence poles and tape. It’s well worth the effort when you see how much happier and healthier your horse is.
In a nut shell…
A Track System:
- Increases movement whilst restricting grass intake
- Mimics the horse's natural environment
- Allows horses to express their natural behaviour
- Discourages vices and unwanted behaviour
- Creates a stimulating environment for your horse
- Has many health benefits.