Our Goal is Happy, Healthy Horses at the Balance Point
Horses in pasture move, play, increase circulation in feet, improve their balance. Playing with other horses lets them develop confidence and helps them release stress and anxiety. Having a strong herd leadership in charge of the herd gives them a constant social structure that teaches the horses to pay attention to their leader, respect boundaries and makes the lower hierarchy feel safe and secure.
At many boarding stables horses get attached to one horse and cannot be separated from their buddy without a great deal of stress and confusion. The natural herd structure mimicked here gives the horses a large enough “family” that they can be worked and deal with change knowing that they will not be alone.
Unfortunately, there are times when a horse may get too rough trying to move up in the herd and those horses are removed and worked with as quickly as possible to settle them down. Some horses are not candidates for herd living, and for those horses we have paddocks where they can live with one or two friends in quiet and safety.
Overall, the system of letting the herd leaders here settle and reinforce the respect of boundaries has helped calm many horses and reduce the incidence of colic in previously highly stressed horses.
Another up side to the herd-living model we have here is the ability to rotate pastures and put an area in high use to aerate, fertilize and then move the herd off to rest it. With this system we have thankfully been able to maintain grazing for the horses even through the severe drought.
With the horses coming up the hill for part of the day, it allows us to watch the horses’ movement as they are coming up in the morning and check for any potential problem areas in the horse’s body. By eating separately they are able to get the nutrition that is customized for their needs, and we are able to check the horses up close and apply topical treatments. With the wet weather we treated all the horses with cracked heels weekly to help their owners with their own treatment programs.
The work done handling each horse putting them in and getting them out of their stalls also reinforces the idea of human leadership and the respect for boundaries and overall listening. Some horses require more time than others.