The little things we can do to help our domesticated horses stay healthy
The job of a natural hoof care trimmer is to advise their clients on the humane care and management of domestic equines based on Jaime’s research of the wild, free roaming equines living naturally in the U.S Great Basin.
Ideally it would be lovely if all domesticated horses lived on a natural horse boarding facility, they were able to self trim, were fed a clean healthy diet and the natural hoof care practitioner was only needed intermittently to keep things going in the right direction. However we know that this isn’t reality and most domesticated horses suffer great consequences as a result of poor boarding facilities, poor diet, poor hoof care practices and poor horsemanship methods.
This doesn’t have to be the case, there are lots of small things that we as domesticated horses owners can do to allow our horses to live healthier lifestyles. Plus wouldn’t it be lovely if you could spend less on vet bills, less on hoof trimming costs because your horse will be healthier and self trimming?
I hear you say ‘that’s all well and good but I don’t have my own land, so there is not much I can do’, and then even if you have your own land I hear a lot of people are hesitant because they presume a paddock paradise will cost too much. These perceptions need to change because there is so much that we can do and with little money needed.
So assuming you have access to a paddock rented or your own, here are some of the small things we can do to allow our domesticated horses to be healthier versions of themselves.
The first thing we need to do is to build a moveable track. This can be done with plastic posts and electric rope or wire. It is easy to set up, one person can do it and no strength is required.
A grass track is not recommended but this doesn’t mean you have to resurface. I know for most of us especially in the UK laws and landlords dictate whether we can do this anyway. HOWEVER there are ways around. The first thing that we can do is turn or plough the land or even just where the track is going to be. It will allow you to easily get rid of the grass and once the horses are in there I find only weeds come up and it is much more manageable.
Next we introduce a herd, one horse on a track system will not work. In the wild, a horse’s family band is between six to twelve (and this does not include extended family bands). The aim here is to encourage normal horse behaviours such as interacting and fighting which will get the horses moving.
Then we introduce hay stations around our track. The idea is to space hay around the track to encourage the horses to keep moving, too much hay in one area will result in little to no movement. In the wild the free roaming horses operate on a pick and go affair system so it is normal behaviour for them to always be on the move and rarely stood in the same stop eating. (Check out Paddock Paradise by Jaime Jackson for more information on normal feeding behaviours of the wild, free roaming horses).
Obviously in an ideal world diverse footing and rocky terrain on your track would be great. Some people’s landlords allow them to put rocks and hardcore by gates and water troughs or muddy areas so it is definitely worth asking. Even though this is just a small amount of diverse footing it really does help.
I love to take my horses out exploring, I am lucky enough to have many bridleways and walks with rocky terrain and I have found that this really helps our horses self trim. If your horse really struggles start off with just a few minutes and build up slowly. Walk your horse, don’t ride them if they struggle. This will allow them to find their own footing.
Like humans diet and movement is key . As domesticated horse owners it is our responsibility to abstain from unnatural horse care practices. Remember healthy horses are happy horses with beautiful hooves.