Case study investigating the feasibility of implementing a track grazing system at Hartpury University for student livery horses.

V. Charnock-Crawford, C. Smith, H. James, H. Rowlinson, Lorna Cameron

Research output: Contribution to conferencePoster

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Abstract

Introduction: Track grazing systems are widely believed to have a positive impact on social contact of horses, contributing towards beneficial management of laminitis, and providing additional turnout. An up-and-coming alternative grazing method, benefiting health and welfare, encouraging natural equine behaviour. Implementing a track livery system at Hartpury University will set a good example for the wider industry (Cameron et al., 2021). Hartpury currently have 150 stables available for student livery, situated within the Equine Centre alongside Hartpury loan horses. Solo/herd turnout is offered as a part of the stabled livery, the track system would account for a substitute to classic field turnout.
Materials and Methods: Two online questionnaires were distributed. The first questionnaire asked track livery owners how they currently manage their track grazing and initial set up costs. The second questionnaire was aimed at both current and potential students, gaining opinions on whether a track grazing system would be popular. Each questionnaire was descriptively analysed and assessed independently.
Results: The questionnaire aimed at owners received 23 responses; the student questionnaire received 87 respondents. Initial set up costs for existing tracks ranged from £100 - £50,000. Common considerations for initial track set up were: check the gradient of the land to ensure optimal drainage, add plenty of enrichment, and have a large open barn as the field shelter. Preferred choices for enrichment activities were sand pits and logs.
Costings vary for each proposed standard of track, however, the highest initial set up costings would be for Mud Control Mats (£8.10 per 1m2), field shelters (from £5012 plus VAT), and essential planning permission.
Eighteen percent of students suggested their key deterrent for a track grazing system was the risk of horse injuries due to potentially narrow areas and ground conditions, often dependent on competition level of their horse. With comments suggesting willingness to have a horse on track livery was associated with which horse breeds would herd together (requires further investigation.) Another deterrent was possible mismanagement of horse’s individual feeding/forage requirements.
Discussion and Conclusions: Three standards of track livery systems are proposed for Hartpury University, gold standard being the optimal. Land usage is the predominate arising limitation, considering ground for grazing at Hartpury University is limited. Options to build a track through currently minimally used woodland area supports feasibility of this case study, increasing optimal usage of available ground. In response to challenges, several suggestions have been developed. Options to have a track system as an alternative to current livery is popular among students. Overall, the results of this case study signify implementing a track system at Hartpury Equine Centre is feasible thus far given the positive response from students and the accessibility of currently vacant ground.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 8 May 2024
Event13th Alltech-Hartpury Student Conference - Hartpury University, Gloucester, United Kingdom
Duration: 8 May 20248 May 2024

Conference

Conference13th Alltech-Hartpury Student Conference
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
CityGloucester
Period8/5/248/5/24

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