With the Paddock Paradise or track system becoming more and more popular among equine owners, we see an increase in questions regarding the use of shoes.
The ‘Paddock Paradise’ is a concept based on the lifestyle of wild and free-roaming horses and provides domesticated horses with an environment that more closely resembles their natural habitat - originally created by Jaime Jackson, 40-year veteran hoof care professional, author, researcher and noted expert on both wild and domestic horses. While the concept of a track system has been somewhat adapted throughout the years to fit each individual owners’ needs, the original concept of the Paddock Paradise has specific requirements in place to truly optimise our horse’s health. At PB, we try to remain as close to the original concept as possible and something we have seen an increase in is the questions of whether or not a shod horse should go on a track.
I would like to start off by saying that the Paddock Paradise track system, if set up correctly, can benefit your horse in one way or another, shod or barefoot. However, we ourselves do not accept shod horses onto our tracks and keeping shod horses on track doesn’t remain true to the concept.
The Paddock Paradise is built upon 4 pillars, which can be broken down into the following - 1) diet, 2) movement, 3) hoof care and 4) natural schooling, ridden work and groundwork. Each individual pillar works together to support the equine, optimising the over all health and wellbeing of your horse by fulfilling their most natural (yet basic) needs. Hoof health plays an incredibly important role in maintaining a healthy equine and so this is why we don’t accept shod horses.
Often or not, the hoof shines a light on to other problem areas within the body and current management issues. If for example, your horse is footsore without shoes, then there is an aspect of your horse’s diet that needs tweaking and should be addressed as soon as possible. Hoof sensitivity is just one symptom of sub-clinical Laminitis and ignoring the signs without addressing the trigger isn’t a risk worth taking – especially when Metabolic issues, obesity and Chronic Laminitis are all issues your horse is susceptible to if footsore. Additionally, even if your horse is on a species appropriate diet with no signs of metabolic disorders or some form of Laminitis, we see a multitude of different issues in need of rehabilitation caused from shoeing alone, which can then go on to put unnecessary stress or tension on various joints and tendons.
Whilst yes, a track system can be beneficial to your shod horse in multiple ways, your horse is still going to have restricted hoof health with the potential for other problem areas to appear later down the line. The Paddock Paradise is a set up designed to provide domesticated horses with an environment that caters to and supports their natural requirements – no stables, no routine, no paddocks, no shoes.