If you use a paddock for your horses during the winter, you may have wondered how you can make life interesting for your equine companion. Keeping horses off pastures during the wet months protects grass from overgrazing and soil compaction, but a lot of people worry about confining horses to a small area for a long period. An upcoming workshop at the Evergreen State Fairgrounds will examine an emerging trend in the horse world today—track paddocks. “The whole idea is to encourage horses to move about more freely and interact with each other,” says Alayne Blickle, Director of Horses Clean Water and the workshop instructor. “Many who’ve tried this approach have found it can reduce vices like cribbing, keep hooves healthier and improve horse health in general.”
Track paddocks are based on concepts brought to the forefront by author Jaime Jackson in his book Paddock Paradise, A Guide to Natural Horse Boarding. Jackson introduced a new way of looking at confinement areas based on his research into how horses live in the wild. Jackson’s ideas draw from his observations on how the horse’s natural instincts stimulate and facilitate movement which Jackson feels helps keep a horse sound, both physically and mentally.
A track paddock is generally a long corridor that circles the perimeter of a pasture or property, with permanent fencing on the outside and temporary fencing on the inside. “There are lots of other creative ways to shape it,” says Blickle. “I’ve seen people circle the track around a building or arena, or even weave it through a trail course. The possibilities are endless.”
The workshop, sponsored by the Snohomish Conservation District and Horses for Clean Water, will also cover pasture care techniques including how grasses grow, creating a winter paddock, liming, spreading compost, rotational grazing and weed control. “We’ll discuss how to weave horse health into the scenario, by tying it all together with a discussion of lush pastures, carbohydrate intolerance in horses and weight control,” adds Blickle.
The workshop is free and will be held at the Evergreen State Fairgrounds in Monroe on March 23 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Please register at springpastures.eventbrite.com.