WHAT ARE HORSES’ MOST BASIC NEEDS TO SURVIVE?
• reproducing (we will not address this here)
WHAT ARE OTHER NEEDS HORSES HAVE TO LIVE HAPPILY?
• They need (stable & complex!) social interactions: they like to play or groom, they like bossing around or being bossed around, they also like being or grazing together.
• They need herd safety. In most cases, their stress level is greatly reduced when they’re in groups and they most easily rest when herd members are standing watch.
• They like/need to learn things, they are very curious animals.
• Movement is crucial: the more they move (within their health limits of course), the happier and healthier they get. Some experts disagree on the exact mileage wild / feral horses actually travel daily, but that’s at least a two digit number.
• All horses (provided their needs are fulfilled) are better living outdoors.
• The forage they digest best is actually not the lush green (ray) grass we often see in pasture, their only food intake in most cases. In nature, they kind of feed on standing hay, as well as nibble on many other plants and trees.
• Stimulation is a super tool: mental + hooves.
WHAT ARE THE CHALLENGES IN FULFILLING ALL HORSES’ NEEDS?
The challenges with domestic conditions are many – primarily, the size of our pastures. They are small enough not to encourage as much movement as needed. They are also not a suitable size to correctly feed our horses, if kept on it all year round: grass too poor / stressed and far from displaying enough diversity.
They are also very often quite boring flat squares.
Another challenge is to not only fulfil basic and other needs, but HOW we fulfil them.
IS THERE A SOLUTION TO HELP FULFIL HORSES’ BASIC & COMPLEX NEEDS AT THE SAME TIME?
That is when the Paddock Paradise (PP) concept can come into play and help things along.
This concept is super effective for foundered/laminitic horses, navicular horses or ones that suffer from endocrine diseases (PSSM, Cushings, IR and EMS) as the diet can be managed with precision, and barefoot movement, well, that’s just magic for them.
WHAT IS A PADDOCK PARADISE?
The answer is in the next article here!