Paddock Paradise Australia
by Pat & Roly Austin (Australia)
An update from a new track set up in Australia…. Hello again Sarah. They’re travelling anti-clockwise! (the horses). I was SO ready in my head for them to be walking clockwise that it completely threw me out!
It’s like they’ve been on the track all their lives. I put them out one morning and the first thing they all did was walk up the hill at a nice swinging gait – to explore – even though they knew the paddock well, it was like they had something ‘new’.
I picked out their camping and shadey spots perfectly. According to the time of day, I can walk out and KNOW where they’ll be. At approx 8am they’ll be winding down under the gum trees, half asleep with a back foot cocked. By the time I go to work at 8.30 three of them are flat out, sleeping in the dust, while one is on guard.
When I’m home I often go and spy on them. When they finish sleeping they go down to their water, then anti-clockwise walk along the tree belt to scratch their backs and bums on the branches.
Then they do their poo-ing in the rough just past there. After that they amble along and nibble at some of the grass which is left. Then the two babies start skylarking. They canter off and deliberately go too close to Boss Mare. She makes a face at them and they pretend to be scared and hare off at a loud gallop. She pretends she doesn’t care for a few minutes then is off after them at a gallop.
They all seem so relaxed. They’re fairly constantly on the move but in a nice, moochy way, with tails swishing peacefully. I’ve started putting out bits of hay as a supplement as it’s getting harder for them to find what’s left of the grass. The two babies, who haven’t ever been rugged, look magnificent. Their coats are shiney and soft as silk. BUT my show mare, who has been rugged all through winter, looks very dishevelled and still very hairy. Our weather got warm so I took the opportunity to leave her rug off and didn’t put it back on again.
I’d really like to know your thoughts on rugging. Have been reading a bit about leaving rugs off but am wondering if it’s cruel to an 8yo show mare who has been rugged since a yearling. If I did end up leaving her rugs off next winter, I’d have my run-in shed finished by then. We do get frosty winters here – minus 5 Celsius but not very often wind/rain together.
Oh yes! I put the horses in the trail around three weeks ago and you should SEE the mare’s feet! In three weeks her concavity is unbelievable. I’ve never really been completely happy with her feet since leaving her barefoot but was more than willing to persevere. I am so glad that I did because her feet are starting to look like the mustang feet in Pete Ramey’s pictures! I put it down to all the walking because the feed is just about the same (good quality meadow hay, mineral lick and salt lick). Before going into the trail she was locked in a dry lot because of the Spring grass but obviously wasn’t moving nearly as much as now! I think seeing them so relaxed out there is just the best thing. They even galloped three laps of the whole trail the other day – just for the hell of it! It was wonderful.