Let’s look at a couple examples of PP, very different one from another: small surface first. Here is the article about the PP set up on a bigger surface.
Welcome to Sally’s Paradise!
This one is set up on 2.5 hectares, or approx. 25 000 m2 or 6 acres, mostly flat land with bordering woods. The owner managed to set up a track almost 1km long (approx. 0.600 miles), forming a full loop.
Almost all the track had to be stabilised, because of the soil type (lot of clay), the total surface available, the type of horses boarded (mainly drafty / heavy breeds).
She can board between 6 and 8 horses (depending on horses’ size).
The track counts multiple feeding spots (hay in slow feeding nets) that are refilled daily, and in sufficient amount in order for the horses to never lack forage.
Horses have free access to a natural pond, of which the water is regularly tested.
The horses also easily access a variety of trees, providing shade at different times, along the track: willow (wet area), beech, birch, hawthorn, cynorrhodon (European wild roses), ash, hazel, linden, elm, chestnut or hornbeam.
Oaks are also present on this track (protected in this region, so illegal to cut if not sick or threatening safety).
However, the owner tries to minimise as much as possible access to acorns.
[A couple of Sycamore Maples had to be taken down in the vicinity of the property. Another one is still present, due to the neighbour refusing to cut it.
So when it will start producing samaras (they start producing fruits – samaras – after several years), the owner will have to pay very close attention to not having some come where the horses can eat them.
In most recent research, it has been found that a toxic component in the samaras, leaves or seedlings causes equine atypical myopathy. It is a rapid onset disease affecting muscles, including the heart. It is fatal for around three quarters of affected horses.]
FUN & COMFORT?
A spacious open shelter is available, placed so that it protects horses from the main winds but also gives them an easy way in or out.
The owner placed obstacles around the track, thanks to trees fallen off during a storm. There are also narrower paths and larger resting areas, all to encourage movement and add landmarks around the track.
It’s still work in progress, she keeps improving it as finances and time allow.
Access to pastures (areas inside the track) are sometimes allowed.
AND WHAT ABOUT THE FEET?
The downside is the time spent daily to keep the paddock clean and tidy (poo-picking daily + fence check/fix) and for hay distribution.
Constant hay sourcing is another challenge in some areas as hay has to be supplied and fed all year round.
The initial work needed (fencing and stabilisation) is also to take into account.
The owner is very careful about what grows in the pastures or central areas. She tested the soils and selected adapted varied grass & plants mix: adapted to their soils but also to the horses.