Mane Chance operate a track system with each field consisting of two or three circular tracks around a central area - the equine equivalent of an athletic stadium layout!
Varying in lengths of up to a mile- depending on whether it is the inside or the outside track, the tracks are made from wooden posts and electric fencing and have a gate system that enables easy access to the horses and the ability to move between tracks.
The gates are formed by adding attachable lines with handles, into a section of electric fencing, that can open and close and maintain a constant electric supply.
Each track is approximately 11 metres wide, which allows plenty of space for the horses to keep away from each other if they need it, although their herds tend to be friend and family groups and, apart from the odd quite normal scuffle, are peaceful.
The advantages of the track system are many.
- Tracks encourage the horses to move.
- The water trough is always at one end of a track and the herds tend to graze, moving around the track, but know where to return to drink.
- Mane Chance are able to feed the horses their hay at the other end of the track to the water, thus encouraging them to exercise.
- Manage the amount of grass the horses have according to their needs and breeds.
- The elderly thoroughbreds are named the "pre -eaters". They can never have too many calories, and so go onto the Spring grass first to graze it down. They then move to another track and the slightly more ‘weight watcher’ cobs are then moved, after them, on to the now vacated and ‘nibbled’ track.
- The "weight watcher" cobs generally need calorie-controlled access to grass and the grass will have been eaten down by the "pre-eaters".
- This process repeats throughout the growing season around the entire site.
- When the grass in a track becomes sparse, they are able open up the track alongside it and create a loop system so that the horses are able to graze in and out of different lanes.
- Always keep loops complete and circular, without any dead ends to ensure the maximum safety of the herd.
- This allows management of their grazing, as the horses might have two thirds of the length of an eaten down track with access to perhaps one third of longer grass, but still maintaining a continuous loop.
- The track system gives flexibility in terms of managing horses’ weight and health but also in terms of managing the land so that it doesn’t go sick from over grazing.
- When integrating a new horse into a herd, having a track system means that you can put the horse alongside an established herd, which is good for observing the reactions between the new horse and the existing herd in the next-door track. This usually leads to peaceful and uneventful integrations.
- Use the central portion of the field during the winter, when feeding their horses hay this means that the tracks can be ‘fed,’ harrowed and rested ready for the following summer.
- Each track has access to shelter as well as water, in the form of a large tree or a mobile field shelter – which can be moved easily behind our tractor, if required, using the gates in the electric fencing.
- Mane Chance have even created several areas of special grazing for both their Shetland herd and also horses that are prone to laminitis and suffer from EMS, by sowing low-calorie grass.
- The Shetlands have several fields of this grass alongside trees and heathers where they can forage.
- The intention is, that when one area is grazed, they are then moved to another area to allow the first field recover, so they are often enriched by changing scenery.
- The ‘lami–track’ is a circular track with low calorie grass cover, which will, as time and money allows, include different surfaces that will be beneficial to hoof health, thus creating the optimum respite and recovery track for any horse that might need it.
- Having this allows them to remain in their natural grazing environment with their friends, instead of having to spend an extended time in a stable.