Paddock Paradise is a natural horse boarding concept. It mimics the behavior of wild horses, eat a little, move on, rest, move on and eat some more. It was conceived as a way for horse owners to provide domestic equines with an environment that more closely resembles their natural habitat. This concept offers constant exercise incentives for the horses and different surfaces that train the musculoskeletal system and strengthen the hooves.
The History of the Paddock Paradise
The system was designed by Jamie Jackson (former farrier that prefers natural hoof care). He had the idea to make horses move around more and over different terrain searching to fill different needs which resembles the nature of wild horses. He combined his experience of observing mustangs with his knowledge as a blacksmith and designed the "Paddock Paradise".
Wild horses often travel great distances a day as they seek out forage and water. By creating a trail, the horses cover similar distances as on comparatively much larger pastures. This type of paddock stimulates movement through its shape alone. A well thought-out paddock trail offers even more advantages. It allows horses to live more closely to the manner nature intended, moving freely 24/7 and eating in a more natural way by having constant access to the right kinds of food placed strategically throughout their track.
One of the great things about the paddock paradise is that there is no set design you must follow. It may be a more or less circular path which is laid out around a pasture. Or it may move and turn snake like through your pasture. You can lay it out whatever way fits best. In general, the path should be equipped with various elements. The distribution of shelters, hay racks and water points is intended to encourage the horses to wander from one place to another throughout the day.
Ideas for elements on the track:
- feeding places
- places for hoof soaking
- rolling stations
- trees for shade and scratching
- areas with stones or gravel to toughen up the hooves
- hills for conditioning
Being close to Nature offers many Advantages
A paddock paradise is to facilitate health and soundness - both physical and mental - in our horses. The symptoms of many diseases can be alleviated by constant exercise. Permanent activity is particularly important for overweight horses that tend to develop metabolic diseases. Another important point is hoof health. Jamie Jackson found that the hoof quality can be significantly improved through different surfaces and lots of walking. Because the horse is confronted with all kinds of terrain both head and body get used to it.
In the beginning when switching from shoeing to barefoot it is possible that the abrasion is high and the horses become sensitive. Hoof boots can be helpful here, which are either put on temporarily during the paddock period (most horse hoof boots are not designed to stay on the hoof for 24 hours), or put on while riding so that the hooves are not put under additional strain.
Jamie Jackson: Paddock Paradise: A Guide to Natural Horse Boarding
Association for the Advancement of Natural Horse Care Practices (AANHCP)