How well designed horse track systems and herbal support can benefit horses
Horse track systems and herbal support for horses may seem like odd ideas to some horse owners/carers – they did to me when I first learnt of those concepts some years ago – however, for an increasing number of people they are an integral way of helping to keep their horses healthy and improve their wellbeing.
In recent years I’ve become known to some as, ‘The Planty Man’ which started as a sort of joke in the beginning as I refer to all plants as ‘plant things’. Chiron Horse came to me as a ‘failed’ trotter at three years of age and no passport. His background and history were unclear as the seller got him from a sales auction and decided to move him on quickly – as some do.
I gave up the Equine Assisted Learning soon after he came to me as it felt like I was ‘doing’ it instead of ‘being’ it
– Stuart Attwood
Health the Natural Way
He has the sweetest nature and temperament and originally I thought we would be an equine assisted learning team, however, I decided that was not to be our pathway and I gave up the EAL soon after he came to me as it felt like I was ‘doing’ it instead of ‘being’ it. Now, he’s a happy recreational horse and I’m happy for him to be that and being on a horse track system seems to suit him – all good then !
Chiron is not an ‘ill’ horse as some can be and he doesn’t suffer with laminitis, ulcers, mud fever and other common conditions and I, at least to a great degree, put this down to the planty things he has available to him that aid his overall health and his immune system on his horse track system.
The Potential of a Horse Track System
A horse track system can vary in design depending on the space available – I’ve helped folk with just over an acre for their track – and the resources (time, people power, finances, imagination) available. Essentially it is a fenced off area that may be part, or fully surfaced as our current track is, or not at all – however, the UK winters do dictate that some sort of surfacing is available.
It will normally have areas for ‘loafing’ of the track herd where they can choose to be close to one another, water resources and feed should be apart from each other to encourage movement and tracks of varying widths, which again increase movement, with the horses passing quicker through narrower areas. In addition shelters, mounds, ponds, scratching posts, cut backs can all be provided and use should be made of natural resources like hills, wooded areas etc.
Encouraging an Ecosystem
However, a planting plan for the herbal support for the horses should also be made. This will provide browsing areas and shelter. Such planting will also increase insects (butterflies and bees etc) which in turn will increase the small birds which will then encourage birds of prey (we have bats, kestrels and red kites) as they predate on the small birds and mammals. A horse track system is not just for horses and a whole ‘circle of life’ will be seen and humans should be accommodated for as well with places to sit and ‘be’ with the horses.
More Positives of the Track System
Other benefits of a horse track system and herbal support regime include:
- Better limb health.
- Less laminitic episodes.
- An overall improvement in foot health.
- More herd socialisation.
- Less anxiety in the horses which become more relaxed with each other and their humans.
- A decrease in stereotypical behaviours can also be seen as gut health improves.
- No ad-lib grass, so a better managed diet (to include reading the labels carefully on bagged feed !)
- Ad-lib browsing and horses more able to be out in all weathers if that’s what they wish.
My top planty things to include on a horse tack system for herbal support:
- Decreases wound healing times
- Reduces bleeding – even in deep cuts
- Antiseptic – inhibits bacterial growth
- Calms a fever
- Pain relief
- Lowers blood pressure
- Mild sedative
- Helps to heal eye complaints
- Insect repellent
- Gentle dewormer
- Draws out seep infections
- Brings up mucus in respiratory illnesses
- Aids digestion