We all dream of watching our horses roam free on a 20 acre pasture 24/7 with the best of what nature has to offer. Unfortunately (for most of us anyways) the paddock is a closer reality when it comes to turning out our horses whether it be due to available space, bad weather, a horse's health needs, or if we just need to give our pastures a rest.
What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of a paddock? If your answer is stinky, fly infested, muddy, dusty, and a place you feel bad about putting your horse you are doing it wrong! Believe it or not, having a horse friendly, easy to care for paddock is key to happy horse-keeping. Why you ask? Here are just a few reasons:
- Paddocks help provide your pastures rest, in order to promote re-growth.
- Allows you to control a horse's feed intake and monitor his health.
- Can help separate the dominant horses from docile ones during feeding time.
- Can give training horses a controlled environment to roam during show season.
Can a DREAM horse paddock really be in your reach? Why yes! Although you may need to do some homework, put in a little effort, and put aside some extra funds to make our dream a reality. The pay offs to creating the ideal paddock are truly endless if you plan to keep horses in your life for an extended period of time.
Here are a few Tips to Help You Create & Maintain the "Perfect Paddock":
- The Ideal Spot: Choose an area on high ground, with well-draining soils. And look for a slight slope (about 1% to 2% is optimal) that will drain away from your barns and confinement areas.
- Footing: Consider investing in footing other than dirt in your paddock areas. Pea gravel, wood chips, course sand or something similar in your paddocks will help promote cleanliness, draining, and ease of cleaning. When choosing the right footing, consider asking yourself: Will it be a suitable, safe surface for my horse to run, stand and lie on? Can I easily pick manure from the footing material? Will it be very dusty in the dry months? Is the material in any way toxic to horses, humans or other animals? Like an arena, an all-weather paddock should be graded so that water runs off. Having a grassy area surrounding your paddock area will act as a filter strip for any run-off.
- Placement: For cleaning efficiency, your confinement areas should be in a convenient path to your barn and manure storage area to make it EASY for you to maintain your paddock area.
- Stress: Having your horse's paddocks next to each other will alleviate stress on your horses. If you have a barn, you may find it easiest to set up paddocks as runs off of each stall. This gives the horse free access to the outdoors, and gives you a dry clean place to feed. Alleys between paddocks keep horses from fighting over fence lines, but they’re not necessary in every barn situation.
- The Perfect Size: A 30' x 100' paddock is just enough room for most horses to be able to run and play. The amount of land you have available, the number of horses, their ages, temperaments, and the amount of regular exercise they receive, all play an important role in determining the size you choose to make your paddock areas.
- Cleaning: May seem obvious, but regularly cleaning your paddock is very important! Picking up the manure every one to three days will not only reduce the amount of flies hanging around, but it will also greatly reduce the amount of mud that develops. Eliminating mud in the winter is your key to reducing dust in the summer, too.
- Water Run Off: Controlling WATER in these small areas is one of the most important things you can do! Investing in rain gutters, a roof run-off system for your barn or shelters, french drains, grassy berms, and the like will help divert rainwater away from your horse's confinement areas. This is another MUST for happy paddock-keeping! This technique will seriously reduce mud and will prevent manure and urine from being washed out of the paddock.
- Strategic Gate & Trough Placement: Mud is always worst in high-traffic areas—around gates, waterers, and feeding areas. Don’t locate these features in low spots where moisture will collect!
- Shelter: Horses on full-day or full-time turnout need free access to some kind of shelter, such as a run-in shed. Locate shelters so that they protect horses from the prevailing winds in your area, and make them large enough for all the animals in the paddock. 144 square feet per horse (a 12- by-12-foot area) is a general rule of thumb. Some areas have shelter requirements, so check with both local and state authorities before you build!
- Fencing: Although wooden fencing for horse paddocks is beautiful, they LOVE to chew on wood. Whatever fencing you choose, you may want to consider reinforcing it with some type of electric fencing. Horses tend to respect electric fences, and learn very quickly to avoid them.
- Lighting: Out-door lighting is also very handy for a paddock area! In the winter it can get dark outside by 5 PM (feeding time!) Consider installing lighting in the warm summer months. Proper lighting will help you get your winter management chores done sooner & help you do a more through job!
- Equipment: Getting the proper equipment needed to manage your paddocks BEFORE winter is a great idea! Take a look around your farm and make a list of what needs to be replaced; do you need a new manure fork? Water heaters? A waterproof jacket for yourself? The list is endless!
- Boredom: It is very easy for a horse to become bored in a paddock area if there is no stimulation provided. Consider getting your horse an activity toy that can help keep your horse busy, develop his problem solving skills, and help avoid bad habits like chewing on their neighbor's blanket, horse cribbing, and the like. The trick is to find the toy capable of capturing and sustaining your horse's attention.
The Likit Challenge System is designed to grade the different levels of challenge each of our toys will offer your horse. Studies have shown that environment enrichment works best when animals are challenged to reach their goal CLICK HERE to learn about the Likit System and download coupons!
Just as with the environment, Likit Products provide a useful distraction that help the horse to relax, and enjoy its time out in the paddock.
Want to give Likit Activity Toys a try? Click below to find a retailer carrying Likit near you!
Likit's In Action:
Find me on:
- Equine Nutrition
- Ask The Experts
- Equine Health
- Equine Conditions
- Fly Control
- Wound & Skin Care
- Leather Care
- Barn & Stable
- Horse Care
- Just For Fun
- Hoof Care
- supplements horses
- Broodmares & Foals
- Senior Horse Care
- Joint Care
- Natural Horsecare
- Success Stories
- fly spray
- Equine Health Care
- Horse Liniments
- Weight gain
- Equine Rescues
- Stable Management