Making the transition (to the track system)


Making the transition

I think it was 15 years ago when I read the book Paddock Paradise from Jaime Jackson and since then I always dreamed of having that for my horses. Alas, our little equestrian facility is rather small, and we had already spent a lot of money on traditional stables, arena etc. and that set up, to my mind would not function to make a track. Also, we had around 7 to 9 horses on the premises, of which 4 or 5 were horses in training. My own 5 horses could not even be together in a paddock as they would fight to the death. Remember, whether my own horses or those I received in training were always deep troubled, traumatized and/or lame and injured horses. Therefore, I saw no workable way of putting them together. My husband often said we could make a track in our grass paddock but I thought, to what use, much to small. Later I should find out that this was not what he meant. I needed to learn to ask questions rather than assume…

Since September 2020 we only had 3 horses left, of which two could stand with 29 year old Owen, but putting them together or putting Don Conquistador together with Inocencio was absolute warfare. You see, Inocencio has an extreme traumatizing past, since before he was 6 months old and he was weaned much to early and not socialized until he came to us at 6 months in 2003.

Inocencio would chase Don Conquistador relentlessly until he had him cornered and would start kicking into him without end. As Donny is already a very fearful horse with hypermobility, PSSM and severe childhood trauma, this was the last thing he needed. Still, I thought, if I had more room where Donny could get away from Ino, this problem would solve itself.

The last time I tried Donny and Ino together was 7 years ago. Since then, both changed a lot, for the better. Inocencio is still kind of awkward with personal space, but he is very calm and no longer stressed nor in any way aggressive. Seeing them standing in their separate paddocks bored out of their wits and me not having enough energy (because of chronic illness) to take care of their entertainment needs with training each day, made me circle back to the track system idea. I thought and thought and then I said to hubby: “what if we make a tiny track in the grass paddock and connect it to the arena on two sides and connect that to all the paddocks, with two openings everywhere, so Donny can always get away if needed?”

Brilliant, turns out that was exactly what hubby meant years ago… never mind. I got there in the end.

I still wanted to think some more, but hubby had already ordered material to build the ‘try out’ track, so there we went… here is the blog I kept on fb in one piece. You shall find my final thoughts on the process and how I felt the horses changed, down below.


- Transferring from individual paddocks to commonly used track system - part 1

The first step was actually an opening from 29-year-old Owen’s paddock to the Arena.

This was immediately a great success and I don’t know why I had not thought of that sooner

After that, whenever Owen was in the grass paddock, I would in turn place Inocencio or Donny there, so they felt at home in the situation.

Today I decided to try out putting Ino in with Owen, the open paddock/arena space, to see how that would work, and it works fine.

I have a lot to figure out and obstacles to overcome but I will keep you posted with each step!




 - Transitioning to track system part 2 -

So... here is the plan 😊

The arrows show where we will open up the 3 paddocks. The first arrow on the left is already open (from the first paddock to the arena, where Grandpa Owen lives).

Hubby has already ordered everything (he is always annoyed that I need to think about everything 10 years before I act lol), so I guess Thunderbirds are Go!

I’ll post about our progress, all right?


- Transitioning from individual paddocks to a track part 3 -

Today we placed Donny in with Owen. O won’t let his food be taken away, which I am happy about, for I worried about that.

I just have to figure out how to give each their supplements, once together on the track.

We also decided not to place the hay station on the pavement as it is to small for 3 horses and no tractor can pass to the stable if needed. Even though I really loved having the hay station on the pavement, we probably decide to do it in the grass paddock where the tractor can easily reach and place a bale.

We then have to place mats or something to prevent mud.

Next week the material for the track will come.

Can’t wait!!



- Update on our transition from separate paddocks to a track system, part 4 -

Today our large organic hay bale was delivered. I put 3 nets over it and let Don Conquistador in with Owen. I keep Inocencio separate for now and will switch him in later for Donny, until we have the track finished and a second hay station. We decided to place the 'try out' bale on the tiny pavement section anyway.

I thought they would just eat all day, but after 20 minutes they left the hay station 😊


The horses thanking hubby for all the hard work he is doing, creating their track 🤩


- Operation separate paddock to track system part 5 -

Yesterday, hubby build our first try out track in the grass paddock, which is opened up to the arena and Owen’s former individual paddock where one hay station is now.

We had fun exploring it together in the dark.

When we watched from the camera last night, this is what we saw:

This weekend we will switch out Donny for Inocencio so he can adjust as well.

We need to put in at least one more hay station before we can try out with all 3 of them.



- Operation separate paddock to track system part 6 -

We switched out Donny for Inocencio so he can adjust as well.

I showed Ino the track and he and Owen happily followed me.

I was to much in the moment and forgot to film for you guys, so we did a re-enactment for you lol

Watch here:

Next step: more hay stations


- Operation separate paddock to track system part 7 -


We placed Donny in with Owen and Inocencio and it went amazing!

If Ino as much as frowned upon Donny, I told him off and I told Donny to give Ino space, which he then did.

Everything went brilliant but I took Inocencio out for the night, just in case.

Tomorrow afternoon when I can be present again, I shall place them together and build it up this week 😊

I am in ecstasy and hubby and I have so much ideas to create their awesome habitat!!

Watch here:


- Operation separate paddock to track system part 8 –

Here is where I thought it would go wrong. 😱Before Inocencio would keep chasing relentlessly and then start kicking without end when he had Donny cornered.

But no, all went normal and beautifully and there has not been any incident since!

I now have them together during the day, keeping the parts closed where Donny could get trapped. I watch them on camera.

At night, I take either Donny or Ino out in turn.

Next step: removing more fencing and replacing it with electric tape with handles, so we can make sure the horses can go round everywhere and not get trapped.

We also have to adjust the individual stables at some point, but for now we keep them closed when all 3 are together 😊



 - Operation separate paddock to track system part 9 –

The changes that I already have noticed these last few days without the track even being completed or all three horses being in 24 hours:

 The horses are much more relaxed. They just ooze calmness. They seek me out, but without being ‘clingy and needy’ or demanding.

  • Owen is usually grumpy and can really bite hard when I place him in the court and groom him. Now I groomed him standing free on the track, and he just stood there calmly and enjoyed it. Donny groomed me from behind and then dropped to roll almost on top of me. He obviously wanted grooming too, so I did. Normally Owen would chase Donny away if I attended to him when they were together in the paddock, but now he just stood calmly with us, leaving us alone.
  • They eat far less hay. When standing in their paddock, eating hay is all they do. Obviously, as there is nothing else to do. Now they walk and brows the whole time and interact much differently. I love it!
  • Now, when I hang with them, I feel it is much more quality time, as I do not feel like I need to separate my time between the three of them, but we simply enjoy time together, all four of us. I also feel much more rested, less hay eating, less feeding, less dung, much easier clean up etc. I was busy feeding and cleaning at least 2 to 3 hours a day. Now they can just reach the hay bale when hungry so no work for me at all! I have not trained with any of the horses during this transition period. Looking forward to seeing if there are changes as well on that front.
  • The hooves seemed to have started self-trimming. More on that subject later!


- Operation seperate paddock to track system part 10 -

They spend their first night together, enduring a thunderstorm.

They are fine! I guess we are definitely over now! 🥳🥳🥳

Extending the track with the rest of the paddocks will have to wait though, as the storm did a lot of damage to our property and hubby has to fix that first... like he has nothing to do...