Our free range stable – paddock trail no. 1 covers an area of 1.7 hectares with a 740 m track for nine to ten horses. The following is a sketch of the free range stable. It actually involves two tracks linked by a ford. There is a shed with a rest area, a grooming area and tack room and an ice-free watering trough on the first track. Three hay racks are placed around the second track, as well as a spot with salt licks and mineral blocks.
Between the shed and the trough on one side and the ford on the other, the track has been covered with gravel. Grass pavers have been placed around the trough.
We paved the ground around all the “stations” (hay racks, mineral blocks, tree trunks and inclines) on the second track with plastic grids and covered these with sand. 1.5 meter sections between these areas have also been paved with grids or covered with gravel. Our aim was to create as much variety as possible along the track, while still making it accessible to the truck for collecting droppings (and our truck unfortunately cannot jump over tree trunks :-) ).
And here are a few pictures of our paddock trail 1:
In the first few weeks, we tethered the horses before feeding them concentrates. That way they could all eat in peace, but the atmosphere was still always rather tense.
Our second attempt involved the use of feeding buckets. I was rather skeptical at first, but then I was completely taken aback at how well the horses took to this method. Apparently, flight animals prefer feeding from these buckets to being tethered.
Another advantage for us was that it saved time. Now, the horses come to the feeding chamber one by one, of their own accord, the feeding buckets are hung over their heads and that’s it. That’s a lot faster than tethering them all and then passing out the troughs.
And here’s our paddock trail 1 by night … (sorry, German subtitles)