Unsurfaced Track System?
Although we have a big hardstanding and barn at the front of each of our tracks, the majority of our tracks remain unsurfaced.We chose not to surface our tracks for a number of reasons.
The biggest reason other than the cost, was not being able to figure out what the best, most cost effective and easy to maintain surface is... And then we realised...So what surface is good for horses with sore feet? Good ground for cantering, hooning and playing? Won't cause sand colic if they eat hay from it, and is easy to maintain and poo pick, whilst providing enrichment and a soft place to lie down? Is cost effective and won't break the bank? Is natural for horses?The answer is.. earth!! Good old good God given mud and dirt!
The only catch is, it doesn't work for some for 3-4 months of the year (winter!).
Our horses live on track 24/7 365 days on the year. Our only surfaces are our big hardstandings at the front of each track, which surround the barn. These are ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL for keeping the horses, and we couldn't be without them whatever the weather!
Somewhere dry to eat hay in the winter, and somewhere they have to walk over in order to access shade and water in the summer keeping their feet healthy and conditioned.Rather than 'hay stations' our hay is spread out around the tracks randomly each day, in a variety of different size holed haynets. We find this stops 'parking' and keeps the horses moving looking for the next net! The only stationary hay are our big bales, which are there for back up once the haynets are eaten, and are double or triple netted (depending how easy that particular bale is to eat) to ensure they go searching for the nets first.
When the ground is very wet and/or muddy in the winter, rather that putting hay on track it is put on our hardstandings, so the horses don't have to go on the tracks and into the mud, unless they want to. The grass on track is very minimal and their diet is mainly hay, but we also like that they still have something else to nibble on and forage as this to encourages movement and provides a bit of enrichment.
Yes short grass roots contain more sugar, but it comes down to quantity. There just isn't enough quantity of short grass for it to be an issue for any of our EMS or lami prone horses whereas I know with access to longer grass they would scoff and fill themselves up.
We don't disagree with surfaces at all, and they are ideal if your horse is completely grass intolerant and of course is provides a track all year, but we have found what works for us!