Track Paddocks

We all have a picture in our heads of the ideal horse farm. For some it is a beautiful, thick, green pasture of blue grass sectioned off by dark three board fences stretching through slightly rolling hills, for other it is a functional pattern of rotational grazing paddocks setup with electric rope, tape of wire. The reality may take more creativity as many of us are not able to have the vast expanses of pastureland required to maintain both healthy horses and healthy pastures. One idea that we have been pursuing here in Maryland for smaller farms is the use of a “track paddock”.

The idea was originally inspired by the paradise paddock promoted by the association for the Advancement of Natural Horse Care Practices (AANCP)

The idea was to provide the horses with an enrichment space that they could move through in a more natural way.

As a Soil Conservationist I was anxious to see if we could apply erosion control methods and promote soil health using this method. What I envisioned was slightly different… it incorporated the use of a track around two or three central paddocks thereby allowing a restricted amount of space to provide three or four areas that horses could be rotated through where previously only two had existed. All the areas would have grass – with the idea that the “track” would be made up of a tougher less palatable grass that would allow it to be used during wet weather or more frequently than the interior paddocks. Hay could be supplemented around the track encouraging the horses to move around the track and the whole design could be tied to a sacrifice area.

To this end we constructed two pilot projects to see how the idea would work. One was built with matching board fence and the other with electric tape supplied by HorseGuard Fence This excellent company not only makes a great product but you can send them your design and they will send you everything you need to complete it – no running to the hardware store in the middle of the project!

Here’s what each project looked like…


More next week.

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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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