Last weekend, Xato and I attended Joe Wolter’s first UK clinic down in Devon. I will be doing a write-up of that very soon, but it requires a certain amount of brain capacity and I am running low on that at the moment – within the next fortnight I have a magazine to compile and print, and a man to marry!
So instead I thought I’d do another feature on our current track system.
This year, we managed to reclaim the hill field which had previously been given to the cows. I’m very happy about this because it means we (almost) have enough grazing for everyone, and keeping equines on a hillside is good exercise for all involved. I feel it offers more enrichment than a standard flat field, too. Oh, and it’s extremely picturesque! That’s important!
I don’t think we were running tracks when we last had access to the hill field – here’s a little bit about why I started using one. I am very much a track convert! Becoming a mule owner has caused me to give a lot more thought to how my animals occupy themselves when I’m not around.
The hill field is pretty much perfect. It is bordered by woodland at one end, which offers them shade, shelter from the rain and wind, and interesting things to forage for. At the bottom is the lake (also fenced off – it’s man made and we are on strict orders to not let any pointy hooves get near its liner!), which is basically their TV. Lots of animals use it, and we currently have a Canada goose family with three little goslings! The hillside itself is probably my favourite part, as they have to travel up and down it several times a day and that means they’re working on their topline and core strength without me having to lift a finger. I am a very lazy person.
My mule-only track plan didn’t work out because I can’t leave Marty and Xato alone together. Xato is an unrelenting juggernaut and, without a horse to keep the peace, he and Marty will pester each other constantly until Marty (who has less stamina than Xato) jumps out and goes in search of a more peaceful place to live. I decided that the benefits did not outweigh the hassle! With four of them to look after, I like to make life as easy as possible.
Anyway, as we create the track shape by strip-grazing, I initially started off with a long strip across the top of the field. The “other track” to the right, between the wooden fence and the green tape, is so that the cattle can be moved between the fields on either side without disrupting the equines. That’s the plan, anyway. It hasn’t been tested yet!