OK, now we are getting into some fun stuff! I have been quite interested in the barefoot horse movement for a couple years now, after I discovered it was not only possible to have high performance barefoot horses but that they often did even better than shod horses. And being able to cure "incurable" lamenesses definitely sounds good to me! This is where pasture management and barefoot come together in my philosophy.
When planning a rotational grazing/MiG program, you will see that you need a "sacrifice area" for the horses to occupy when there is no pasture ready for them to graze. Depending on your property size they may only be able to graze a few hours at a time every few days, or they may spend almost all their time on pasture. Regardless, you need areas where you don't have to worry about trampling hooves, right?
One of the pioneers in the barefoot horse movement, Jaime Jackson, recently came out with a book called "Paddock Paradise," based on the fact that horses are designed to move more or less constantly all day. Wild horses walk/jog in a large, semi-circular pattern around their herd's home territory, and usually cover about 20 miles in a day. I'm not going to go into why that is so important right now, but when horses get at least that much exercise in a day it has BIG health benefits. I have not read the book yet, :-( so obviously I don't know what all he says. I plan to get it ASAP and I'll review it here for your reading delectation when I do! From what I hear, the premise of the book is that he discovered that you can mimic wild horse movement patterns by creating a circular, 10' to 15' wide fenced track. Along this track you will put their food in one spot, their water in another, their salt in another... This shape, rather than the usual open square, etc. paddock encourages horses to move around steadily all day long, rather than simply loafing in their favorite spot all day.
Since I don't have the book yet I don't know how long the track should be at a minimum, or many other specifics. But it sounds very intriguing to me. This would also work really well for a "sacrifice area" that will encourage lots of movement but not "sacrifice" much land.
Fun Factoids: Did you know there are 43,560 square feet in an acre? An acre is officially 220 yards long and 22 yards wide. A perfectly square acre would be about 208.7 feet by 208.7 feet.
Click here for Part 1.
Click here for Part 2.