Let’s look at a couple examples of PP, very different one from another: large surface now. Here is the article about the PP set up on a smaller surface.
Welcome to Solemio!
The second track to be presented here is a very different set up. The owner dedicated over 20 hectares, or approx. 200 000 m2 or 49.5 acres, of land exclusively for the PP livery. The land is composed of hilly grass and wood lots surrounded by a track over 1.5km long (approx. 1 mile), forming a full loop. This PP can welcome up to 20 liveries (more, if several are ponies).
This track did not need massive stabilising work thanks to the size but also the amount of trees (roots are doing a great job at keeping the soil stable), also thanks to the natural sandy footing.
The hay is produced on the property, and is very carefully cultivated. The horses enjoy this home-made hay mainly during the winter season in large nets or feeders.
The nets & feeders are moved frequently, so as to keep horses interested and minimise mud.
This PP would not be considered strictly grass free provided that, the rest of the year, horses almost constantly have access to a pasture, in addition to the track and the woods always accessible.
Yet, the surface available enables such rotations that, what is accessible to the horses is considered as standing hay.
The most toxic plants and trees have been removed. Some potentially risky sorts are still present though (ferns and oaks) as there are way too many.
Horses have been observed to consume some, but not properly feed from it as main food source.
The surface and diversity available to them is large enough that they don’t feel they can only fill their bellies up with not super safe things.
Furthermore, there has been no case of founder, colic or intoxication at all (no even acorns or fern related) on this PP.
It has been researched that if horses never lack non-toxic forage, they would not intoxicate themselves instinctively. The intoxication would come from lack of food, primarily, but also lack of mental stimulation (boredom). While this proves to be the case for this 2nd (larger PP), the owner of the 1st (smaller) PP would not, reasonably so, take the risk given her set up.
Water is available only via natural or dug-up ponds, with regular water-testing. Some ponds are large enough to allow the water lover liveries to have full baths, sometimes even with their guardians!
FUN & COMFORT?
The track offers plenty of foot and mental stimulation, with: the simple diversity and size of the provided environment, narrower paths, large and comfortable resting areas, shade and fresh air in the woods, ponds, obstacles (trees, stones, scary security cordons^^).
This PP doesn’t have a man-made shelter. Horses use the deep woods for shelter, given that the wooden areas are big and dense enough to effectively keep at bay climate’s worsts (wind, rain, snow, heat). There are also a couple of evergreen lots, very handy in winter.
The downside of this set-up is clearly the maintenance.
Obviously, the initial design of the track, putting the fences, cleaning the woods and pastures was very intense.
The size is considerable, so checking and fixing the fences is quite time consuming. Plus, with so many trees in and around the paddock, broken fences are a regular occurrence. Fences need to be cleared under very often.
The pastures need a lot of attention too, to maintain a nutritive and solid soil and keep a healthy variety of grasses happy and growing.
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.