Photo © Arno Gouw and Marijke Schimmelpennink taken at the AANHCP in Lompoc, California on Jan. 29, 2014
Since there is nothing healthy for the horses about unlimited access to lush grass pastures, the best option for them and for the environment is to restrict water use on horse properties only for 'watering' the horses or for growing hay. It is so much healthier to let the horses live on dirt and rock as they would in a native, arid climate. (In fact, the University of Amherst in Massachusetts calls Paddock Paradise an 'innovative best management practice' when implemented as a way to restore wetlands and virtually eliminate manure entering the water table.)
Pictured here is Chance, a 7-1/2 year old gelding (Arab/Quarterhorse cross) who is living proof that the 'wild horse model' - which the AANHCP advocates as the best approach to horse care and from which the concept of Paddock Paradise is based, does indeed, help to keep domestic horses both physically and mentally healthy. This equine athlete has never been in a round pen or on a lunge line in his life. His excellent condition is simply a result of his lifestyle - living in a fairly ruggied, arid environment with four other horses 365 days a year. Their 'natural boarding environment' is modeled after the lifestyle and habitat of the U.S. Great Basin wild horses - where they have limited access to a rich grass pasture but do have a constant supply of a number of different kinds of grass hays provided on a free choice basis at all times. He has never been shod and has only had his hooves trimmed by AANHCP-trained practitioners since he was about 10 months old. He embodies all that is possible with our domestic horses in that he is healthy, happy, fit and sound. Here he is shown running on a well-worn, narrow path that the horses created inside their track - just as they do in the wild.