Near Penrith, Cumbria, UK

by Catherine
(North west England)

Heading out from the yard where they have been for a drink

Heading out from the yard where they have been for a drink

Heading out from the yard where they have been for a drink
Basic layout though some trees need planting yet...one day though!
Heading up one of the banks
The mud wallow is very poular

I hasten to say that my track is still being developed and I need to add much more texture to help condition their feet and combat the slippyness when it is wet but I have really seen how well it can work during this dry summer, the first for several years.


The ground has been really hard and the horses have created dust baths and a mud wallow and watching the fourteen strong herd socialising has been a treat....I now feel guilty considering pulling them off for winter as I can see they enjoy the lifestyle so we are trying to get more dry areas done and may leave half a dozen on as a trial...my main reason for being unwilling to leave the entire herd there is lack of shelter but in a few years, when the trees and hedges mature that should not be an issue... There is a field shelter but I am not certain fourteen would share it...though they do seem very willing to be in close contact.

I am lucky enough to have a couple of pieces of ground with great shelter, hard land, natural water and slopes which are a nice winter alternative...but must say if I can get the tracks hard enough underfoot and with shelter for a larger group....those fields may be surplus to needs ....... certainly they are very fit and well, so i will persevere and make it better.

I have included a map of the layout, the entire field is nearly six acres and is undulating with a natural watering area as well as a trough.

Verdict so far...Fantastic lifestyle for my horses and so much less work...oh also all are barefoot and I trim them myself....the hard land this year has certainly meant less rasping.

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Feb 19, 2016
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Surfaces
by: Catherine

I agrpiqee with you Max, in fact my tracks are mainly unsurfaced you see I get my other half to scrape it periodically to remove droppings so any gravels would be removed in that process cos he uses either a digger or a bobcat, in our case there is not lots of soil over a very hard gravel base so we are lucky, yes in non stop rain some areas get sloppy because it is hopeless trying to move muck when that wet but we do not have issues with gravel hurting hooves. Such areas are gradually being dug out, filled with large rocks and rubble as we can source it then topped with lesser stuff and often finished with sharp sand and rolled, certainly better than hock gigh mud.
We have put down large concrete areas or rolled stone to allow good firm standing in the wet winters and it is an ongoing job improving the standing around feed stations but all in all we are going the right way, certainly winters are getting wetter so at least most the land is protected and looks aesthetically ok which is a bonus, I reckon without the tracks every acre would be black and slimey and I really do not want to bar up the horses again, they cleatly prefer to be out regardless. Feet are doing so well though....but yep, I cannot see how loose fine gravel can work in a wet climate, think only option would be to provide such an area under a roof and even then think I would opt for larger river bed type pebbles

Jan 18, 2016
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surfaces
by: Max

I'm trying to do a PP here in persistently wet west Ireland!

I have to actually build the tracks - i can't just divide a track on the outside of the fields as they happen to be the wettest areas, and with constant movement it's instantly poached, then drenched, then swamp and horses are up to their knees in mud.
I have to therefore build tracks.
It's expensive and time consuming. Could take years, i'm hoping to move ideally as the climate + horses here means a swampy life!

I wanted to let you know of my experience of surfaces in a wet climate, as the climate plays a huge role in whether a surface is good or bad for intended purpose.
Pea gravel - small bits of odd shaped gravel - i have used as the barefoot community *swear* by it - however, now i've used it for 2 yrs it makes me swear for sure!!
Bear in mind, online barefoot folk are mainly from the USA - and in kinder, drier climates. In a wet climate pea gravel is a nightmare.
Firstly, i got 'washed gravel' - but despite this within 12 months the 6 inch bed of comfy sole-polishing gravel had compacted down into a solid base.
I raked it daily to clean it of hay and keep it loose etc (another annoying time consuming extra job due to the material used - mucking out took an hour each day) but despite this, it still compacted within the year to be as hard as concrete.

I put this down in a good size area just outside of their shelter/stable as a 'wintering pad' area.

Also, in a wetter climate the hooves are naturally softer, and you can imagine how small little slices of gravel love to slice into and hide in the white line, and with the horses weight pushing it further in, before you know it, you've got WLD caused by mechanical forces of small stones pushing up into the WL! Nightmare!! Then abscesses follow...urgh!
These horses never had WLD before the pea gravel DESPITE being on wetter land for yrs before the gravel was put down. Nothing changed in their diet/environment or routine, except pea gravel - i've had hoof issues since! WLD went up to half the hoof wall - i had serious stability issues and almost sole-sinking in my mare due to this.

Now the gravel is compacted in most places, i've got a handle on the WLD and it isn't as bad this year.
Never again would i opt for a stone size that's small and sharp - not in a wet climate.
(We barely get a 3 day period without rain - i record the weather, i'm not joking)
Instead i would choose the size of gravel most in the UK have put in their driveways. I'm yet to try this but if you want to try gravel, opt for size a bit bigger than 'pea' sized.
The horses prefer rounded stones rather than sharp stones if they are sorefooted/transitioning to barefoot. (I found it hard to find a source of gravel that was predominantly 'round')
If you have ANY white line issues, gravel of a good size to be a 'massaging bed' to a horses sole, is small enough to pry open the white line further in a wet climate.
I can imagine this would not be such a huge issue in a much drier climate...like east UK!

Just wanted to warn others before breaking your back and wallet spreading pea gravel everywhere in a wet climate, only for it to become a nightmare further down the road!

May 21, 2015
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Ouch..not good
by: Catherine

Oh sorry about your accident, I had a similar thing happen once when a silly mare took a fence off and had my leg wrapped up in it....which was why I opted for permanent fences, five strands of electric turborope fixed to tall wooden posts....however with horses accidents can happen regardless......yes, tracks are not the cheap option, so many people think they are but ad lib hay does not come cheap does it!?...I have 22 horses and ponies so I am sure you can imagine. i know many people make their now surplus grass into hay so it is six and two threes really. I decided just to carry more horses, tracks seem to make it easy to have more on any given acreage........ Also now we know how detrimental grass can be to health and feet etc and how crucial it is for horses to socialise and move perhaps paying for that quality of lifestyle is something more of us will choose to factor into our expenses...possibly many people would find vets bills become a thing of the past as health issues seem to diminish, I do not know...I have chosen the track system and after several years I am still smitten...but do not pretend there are no issues...wet weather being one of them....initially it broke my heart to see the land churned up but you know, now I have come to view green grass as the enemy and weeds and bare ground as perfection...horses still doing great so onwards and upwards...doubt we will ever be finished...cash holds us back but we still have big dreams and, as I get older I do find keeping them on track easier than how it was before.

May 21, 2015
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Track expenses
by: Peta Mason Gray

II said I would never return to using a paddock system instead of a track but recent events are pushing me in that direction.firstly the hay is too expensive and the cost of replacing my leisure battery is prohibitive. So my four horses keep breaking through into the paddock.in fact am currently injured as a result of a fencing related accident in which I was dragged by a horse who managed to jump out over a bit of rope 6 ins off the ground and tangle me up in it.
My laminitis alert app gives me heart attacks by going on red alert the minute I let them onto the grass so am constantly moving fences around which with one arm and one leg out of operation is not easy and takes hours. Oh:(

Nov 21, 2014
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Yes
by: Peta Mason Gray

please tell us what you have used for the surfaces. I've asked for crushed rubble for Xmas, but keen to hear of other things.
Am on clay so veerryyy slippery so urgently need to get something down. Pea gravel I know people use but doesn't it get stuck in their feet? Thing is I've been warned not to put stuff down when ground is wet and muddy. Really? I imagine you'd need more of it in mud but is there some other reason to wait till dried out?

Mar 26, 2014
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Yes...was notified of your comment
by: Anonymous

Hello there...well you are not far away......am going to mail you now...i actually seem to be acquiring a collection of friends on facebook who are uk fans of pp so only to happy to hook up and chat about how things are developing
Catherine

Mar 26, 2014
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Hello from Lancashire
by: Shell

Hello,

I have just come across this page although im not sure if you will get this message. We are getting ready to set up a paddock paradise in Lancashire it would be great to speak with you about different surfaces you have used. My email is shellyjagger@googlemail.com

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