New Pasture Design: Track Paddock

What are those horses doing walking around the outside of what looks like a pasture?  Who in their right mind would leave such a large alleyway around their property?

Here in Montgomery County, you might be looking at either one of two pilot projects supported by Montgomery Soil Conservation District. The new pasture layout is called a “track paddock” and it provides equine operators with another option for pasture layout that allows the horses to be rotated more frequently on small pieces of land. It is particularly well suited to small properties that have limited pastureland available.

By using a 16-20 foot track around the outside of regularly sized square pastures horses can have access not only to more space but can move through the long track in a more natural manner. Hay and water can be placed along the track to promote movement around and through it, but most horses seem to move through on their own due to natural equine curiosity.

The idea is based on the Paddock Paradise® promoted by the Association for the Advancement of Natural Horse Care Practices (AANHCP) which they call; “a ‘management or boarding concept’ to provide domestic equines with an environment that more closely resembles their natural habitat”.

More information can be found on their website.

The idea of “habitat enrichment” has been used frequently in zoos but has not been consistently applied to horses. We wanted to see if it would help to combine healthy pastures with healthy horses. Two things that many people currently feel are mutually exclusive.

Unlike the Paddock Paradise®, MSCD’s track systems maintain grass in all of the pastures in the system. The additional pasture created by the track allows for longer rotations between pastures as well as allowing the use of the track portion of the system as a vegetative heavy use area during wet seasons. Future plans include seeding warm season grasses in the track portion to see if use can be increased.

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Shelly Ingram

I am a third generation horsewoman; My father operated a 50 horse boarding and training facility in northern California, where he specialized in re-training spoiled horses. I was his demonstration rider and general assistant in all aspects of running the ranch. I went on to work for several major show and race horse trainers, eventually opening my own barn where I focused on Junior and Amateur riders. I have trained numerous champion horses and riders on all levels and in variety of disciplines. I have also worked as a journalist and have more than a decade of experience in land use planning.

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