WHAT IS A PADDOCK PARADISE?
Paddock Paradise (PP) is a concept initially developed by Jamie Jackson, aiming to help recreate an environment as close to horse’s natural life-style as possible, and to fulfil as much (if not all) of their needs as possible.
• Horses live in herd
• Outside 24/7 with free access to covered area(s)
• On a track (fenced both sides). Can and should also include larger spaces regularly to allow rest, play or hanging as a group
• With as many different surfaces as possible
• With obstacles and as many different levels as possible (steps, hills, ditches)
• With as many landscapes as possible (forest, access to the lunging ring or sand arena, or imagination is your only limit)
• Ad lib hay only, preferably in slow feeding (hay nets) – no or very restricted access to grass
• But also offer other plants and trees variety (free access to – non-toxic – bushes, aromatic herbs, trees or roots)
• And separate the feeding spots from the water places (or any other point of interest: eg. shelter) as much as possible, to keep encouraging horses to travel (to seek what the want/need)
• As a side bonus, it allows more horses on a smaller surface, as it’s the track length and width that matters. Horses depend on hay and not residual grass to feed.
If you opt for a PP principle to board your horses, you must pay even closer attention to every toxic elements that can be present in your paddock: tar on posts, toxic posts (black locust’s bark – false acacia), toxic plants or trees.
Because the horses will be encouraged to explore, and if they lack hay for a few hours because they ate too fast or you were late, they might try tasting what surrounds them.
WHAT IF IT’S TOO DIFFICULT FOR ME TO SET UP!?
The strict PP idea is well-thought, but sometimes too difficult for the guardian to fully implement.
If you don’t have your horses at home or if you feel you can’t do much of those stuffs, don’t fret about it. Just do whatever is possible. If your board your horse, maybe speak with the yard manager to see what’s feasible (no too big demands initially, if they’re not so into these things, or you might upset them^^).
“Perfection” is the enemy of “Good”. So just do what you can and have a look at the next article for inspiration!