I think it was 15 years ago when I read the book Paddock Paradise from Jaime Jackson and since then I always dreamed of having that for my horses. Alas, our little equestrian facility is rather small, and we had already spent a lot of money on traditional stables, arena etc. and that set up, to my mind would not function to make a track. Also, we had around 7 to 9 horses on the premises, of which 4 or 5 were horses in training. My own 5 horses could not even be together in a paddock as they would fight to the death.
Remember, whether my own horses or those I received in training were always deep troubled, traumatized and/or lame and injured horses. Therefore, I saw no workable way of putting them together. My husband often said we could make a track in our grass paddock but I thought, to what use, much to small. Later I should find out that this was not what he meant. I needed to learn to ask questions rather than assume…
Since September 2020 we only had 3 horses left, of which two could stand with 29 year old Owen, but putting them together or putting Don Conquistador together with Inocencio was absolute warfare. You see, Inocencio has an extreme traumatizing past, since before he was 6 months old and he was weaned much to early and not socialized until he came to us at 6 months in 2003.
Inocencio would chase Don Conquistador relentlessly until he had him cornered and would start kicking into him without end. As Donny is already a very fearful horse with hypermobility, PSSM and severe childhood trauma, this was the last thing he needed. Still, I thought, if I had more room where Donny could get away from Ino, this problem would solve itself.
The last time I tried Donny and Ino together was 7 years ago. Since then, both changed a lot, for the better. Inocencio is still kind of awkward with personal space, but he is very calm and no longer stressed nor in any way aggressive. Seeing them standing in their separate paddocks bored out of their wits and me not having enough energy (because of chronic illness) to take care of their entertainment needs with training each day, made me circle back to the track system idea. I thought and thought and then I said to hubby: “what if we make a tiny track in the grass paddock and connect it to the arena on two sides and connect that to all the paddocks, with two openings everywhere, so Donny can always get away if needed?”
Brilliant, turns out that was exactly what hubby meant years ago… never mind. I got there in the end.
I still wanted to think some more, but hubby had already ordered material to build the ‘try out’ track, so there we went… here is the blog I kept on fb in one piece. You shall find my final thoughts on the process and how I felt the horses changed, down below.
- Transferring from individual paddocks to commonly used track system - part 1
The first step was actually an opening from 29-year-old Owen’s paddock to the Arena.
This was immediately a great success and I don’t know why I had not thought of that sooner
After that, whenever Owen was in the grass paddock, I would in turn place Inocencio or Donny there, so they felt at home in the situation.
Today I decided to try out putting Ino in with Owen, the open paddock/arena space, to see how that would work, and it works fine.
I have a lot to figure out and obstacles to overcome but I will keep you posted with each step!