Are you considering setting up a track system such as the Paddock Paradise for your horse?

In recent decades, many horse owners have shown interest in natural equine management and care practices. These practices seek to mimic the lifestyle of wild horses.

Whether by feeding a forage-based diet, providing more turnout time with other horses, or opting for barefoot hoof care, several management strategies promote natural behaviour in domesticated horses.

However, it is difficult for domestic horses to match the amount of movement that wild horses experience daily. Feral horses can cover up to 18 miles (30 km) in a single day. [3]

As most of us cannot ride our horses for several hours each day, how does one encourage their horse to move more on their own? The solution is track system built around existing pastures or property, also referred to as a Paddock Paradise. 

Jaime Jackson, a barefoot hoof care practitioner, developed the Paddock Paradise after studying wild horse behaviour. This concept is designed to mimic the movement of wild horse herds and encourage natural behaviours in domestic horses. [1]

Paddock Paradise for Horses

Jaime Jackson designed the Paddock Paradise concept based on the lifestyle of the wild and free-roaming American Mustangs living in the U.S. Great Basin.

A Paddock Paradise system gives domestic horses an environment resembling their natural habitat. [1]

Horses in the wild move from food to water to shelter and then back again, creating tracks over their range area. They also move as a herd, both for safety and because the horse is a social animal.

Under modern management practices, horses are often kept in stalls with limited turnout or are maintained on small paddocks where they stand in one area to graze for long periods.

A Paddock Paradise allows domestic horses to live together on a track system and encourages movement to find food, water, and shelter.

Paddock Paradise Track System for Horses | Mad Barn Canada

Key Features

A Paddock Paradise track system can be used on different terrains and different-sized properties.

The design can be as simple as running an electric fence parallel to the perimeter fence of a rectangular pasture, or it can be made more complex. The center pasture remains protected and can be used for grazing other livestock or baling hay.

The main goal of a Paddock Paradise is to promote equine welfare and maintain sound and healthy horses.

Movement can help prevent many illnesses and disorders that affect our domestic horses living in stalls or close confinement. Track systems also avoid the dangers of grazing on lush pastures, which can be hazardous to horses with metabolic issues. [1]

A Paddock Paradise also provides a more stimulating environment for horses which discourages stereotypic behaviour such as cribbing or wood chewing. [2]

Mimicking Wild Horse Movement

The Paddock Paradise design promotes behaviours that are similar to those seen in wild horses.

In the wild, horses move along familiar routes or tracks and instinctively walk in single-file formation as they travel vast distances in search of food, water and shelter. [1]

One study following 12 feral horses living in Australia found that they travelled on average 5.9 kilometres (9.9 miles) per day.

At times, these horses were recorded 55 kilometres (34 miles) away from their watering points. Some horses walked for 12 hours to find source of water. [3]

Another study found that horse herds are often triggered to move because of the actions of a single horse, who is usually the dominant horse in the group. [4]

Horses are prey animals and rarely linger in one area for too long. Instead, to evade predators they tend to stay on the move, only stopping to graze or browse for short periods. [1]

A track system encourages similar movement patterns, and helps keep your horse active and moving throughout the day.

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Addressing Obesity in Horses

Obesity in domestic horses is reported to be as high as 50% in some populations . [10]

Horses that are obese have a higher risk of health conditions such as equine metabolic syndrome (EMS), reproductive problems, and osteochondrosis. [5]<