Natural Horse Boarding
We offer pasture board on our 15 acre farm in Upper Marlboro, Maryland. What is natural horse boarding? It is an attempt to keep horses as close to the way they live in the wild as we can while maintaining their mental and physical health. Horses are prey animals that prefer living out in the open. They normally roam many miles in the course of a day, foraging as they go. They are not accustomed to being kept in small boxes, often in closed up, dusty barns, and being given concentrated feed twice a day.
The field is layed out according to the principles of the book Paddock Paradise by Jaime Jackson. You can see his official website here.
This involves using a "track" as a dry lot, rather than a fenced off corner of the field. What this does is encourage natural movement and mental stimulation when the horses are shut off of the grazing fields in the winter, or for any other reason. Studies have proven that they move much more when on the track system than when kept in a conventional dry lot. (If you don't know what a dry lot is or why one needs them, click here for more info.) Also, horses can be encouraged to move by providing hay, salt, and water at various points around the track, so they must "forage" for it. Movement is also encouraged by the natural heirarchy of a horse herd; the dominant horses will drive the more submissive horses around, onto the next hay pile or item of interest. (This is why it's important that the track forms a complete loop... no shut off corners for a less dominant horse to be driven into).
Here is an excellent link that offers a lot of resources as well as advice and explanations of the Paddock Paradise system: Paddock Paradise Wiki
WRITTEN BY: Cheryl Sutor [July 5, 2002]
In today's world, a very large percentage of conventional boarding environments are based more and more on the needs of the horse owners than on the needs of the horse. These sacrifices, which are generally done to make horse keeping more "convenient", are instigating health problems and reducing the horse's lifespan and natural healing abilities.
Most horse owners do not realize that the horse is very much different from ourselves. We need to start taking the horse's natural lifestyle into account and stop "humanizing" them. For example: Many horse owners believe that their horse is most comfortable in a stall deeply bedded with shavings or straw. However, this is not true (explained below). The horse does not find comfort in many of the things that we conventionally provide it.
This article is intended to help you, as a horse owner or student, to understand the proper natural environment in which horses are born to live in. After all, the horse's environment plays the key role in it's overall health and lifespan, and we all want the very best for our much-loved horses.