Translate the lessons to our concept
Create a track which is about 10 to 15 feet wide
Although we’ve not even begun to flesh out the many possible features of Paddock Paradise, early experiments reveal that horses begin to move almost immediately on track, and usually clockwise!
Diet and feeding behavior
The first regimen of stimuli should relate directly to the horse’s most pressing survival need, one nearly always present in his mind due to the nature of his digestive tract: diet. The horse must be encouraged to nibble and move. We help by the placement of feed on track and the quantities provided. We spread the hay around the track at regular intervals. We can also set out salt and natural mineral blocks along the way.
Water and watering behavior
The obvious need for the horse to quench his thirst is another stimulus to cause movement on track. Going one step further consider creating a water hole large enough for your horses to wade and bathe in.
Dung, copraphagous and dominance behaviors
The accumulation of dung will sooner or later become an issue, at least in smaller paddocks. While the majority of dung can be removed as necessary, our model shows us that a certain amount should be deliberately left on track. There are two reasons: dominance and copraphagous behaviors.
Rolling, pawing and bathing behaviors
There seem to be two distinct patterns of rolling behavior in wild horse country. One is a mud bath and occurs in relation to the water hole, the other occurs elsewhere on track and is more of a ‘dusting’ experience.
Camping behaviors: resting, sleeping and grooming
Whereas feeding behavior occupies the greatest portion of equine life in the wild, ‘camping’ behavior assumes a not too distant second – roughly a third of his daily life. By camping, I mean he’s basically standing around an movement on track has effectively come to a halt. At regular intervals, family members take every opportunity to stop at favorite camp spots to rest or sleep, to groom every reachable part of each other. Horses in Paddock Paradise should be expected and allowed to rest and sleep throughout the day. Horses may enjoy camping in different locations. Accordingly, I would provide several enlarged areas for camping along the track.
Reproductive and foaling behavior
Paddock Paradise provides the ideal environment for reproductive and foaling behaviors. From the moment of birth, new born foals should live their lives on track, moving with the normal ‘flow’ of movement established by the alpha mares and alpha males (if present). I recommend creating breakout cells from the track for foaling purposes.
Agonistic and play behavior
Agonistic behavior is combative behavior, simply put, a time to ‘fight’. Play behavior, at least among the males, closely resembles agonistic behavior. In the wild, male horses love to play fight.
The horses must be allowed to choose their friendships, alliances and relative positions in the band’s or herd’s natural pecking order. This isn’t something we determine for them, they determine it themselves. For example, horses pick their positions on trail rides with other horses. Horse owners who don’t respect this may get caught in the middle of the ensuing not-so-friendly jabs kicks that take place.