The Paddock

A paddock is advantageous for rearing young horses, for turning out horses when not required for work, and for restoring to health or soundness those which are recovering from lameness or sickness. From some points of view the term paddock is synonymous with pasture, though the latter usually means a more extensive area than the former. In both horses may be turned out, from motives of economy, or for other reasons, during summer and winter. A paddock or pasture should afford a good growth of sweet and rich herbage, and be, if possible, of extensive range, with sound and safe fences. Locality will greatly influence the character of pastures; those which are low-lying and moist are considered best for rearing large colts, and for horses suffering from debility, lameness in the limbs, or diseased feet. Those pastures which are on undulating and hilly ground have their advantages, as the air is drier and the ground harder; they are preferred for young colts, as the hoofs grow more compact and firmer. Pastures or paddocks which have been grazed upon by horses only for a number of years, are generally considered as unsuitable for growing animals, or not of much advantage to any; as the herbage does not contain a sufficient amount of nutriment, while the land becomes impregnated with the germs of the worms which infest horses. It is, therefore, recommended that grass land which has become "horse-sick" should be ploughed and subjected to a thorough course of cropping before it is relaid in grass. If the paddock or pasture, however, is only grazed upon at intervals, this breaking up of the land need not be resorted to, but a top dressing of some kind will prove beneficial; while scratching and rolling in the spring, if the area be not very extensive, will favour the growth of succulent grass. For young animals, and even for old ones, a good pasture generally affords sufficient amount of nourishment; but if there is not sufficient grass, or if the animals are valuable, this should be supplemented by an allowance of hay, or even corn, as occasion demands. It is well to have a pond near for supply of good water, if this cannot be regularly given; or a large trough or cistern placed in- a corner may be regularly filled. It is also very advantageous to have a shed into which the horses can retire during stormy weather, during the mid-day heat, or to escape from the flies; especially is this necessary if there is no shade to be obtained from trees.

If kept in the paddock or pasture during the winter, an allowance of dry forage is indispensable - such as hay, or hay and corn, or straw-chaff mixed with corn and pulped roots.