Exercising your horse without effort

I recently stumbled across a way to get my horse to do almost twice as much exercise as most other horses.  Better still, it doesn’t involve me having to find the time to be there when it happens! (and nor did it cost much to set up).  So what is it you ask?  A very basic track set up around the perimeter of my paddocks.  Yep its that simple.

One of my horses has Equine Metabolism Syndrome so keeping weight off him is vital to him staying alive and as he is also prone to laminitis I need to be careful about the exercise intensity. Now, like most things, there are some beautifully elaborate tracks out there but I have neither the time to wait years for one to develop or an endless supply of money so I have had to make do and be a little creative.  What I have done is invest in some portable fence standards and a few rolls of tape and so started experiment #1.

Initially I made a rectangle (with rounded corners) inside a rectangle paddock approximately 2.5 meters in from the perimeter thus creating a basic loop.  At one end of the loop is the water trough and in the corners of the paddock where my interior rectangle rounds off there are areas that are slightly wider where the horses are inclined to rest.  The basic premise of a track is that the narrowness subtly drives the horses forward for their next bite of grass rather than them just standing in one spot.  Having two horses on the track enhances that further as one moving forward creates the next to move forward.

Of course, once you get going you can make the track as simple or elaborate as you like, only limited by your imagination and how many fence standards you have.

Curiosity then got the better of me so experiment #2 was dreamed up – tracking the horses to see how far they walked vs a horse in a paddock under similar weather conditions.  Here are the results:

The image above on the left shows a 24 hour period tracking a horse in a paddock.  As you can see, that horse travelled 2.46km.  Under similar weather conditions, the horse in the right hand image above travelled 4.25km.  This experiment was repeated several times and the results were always roughly the same, the horse on a track travelled almost twice as far as the horse in the paddock.

So there it is, 2km of additional free exercise a day!

If you have a track and would like to share your experiences and tips I would certainly love to hear from you.  Alternatively if you are interested in setting up a track and have questions please email me at Dianne@essentiallyequineservices.

Have a great day.