The Equicentral System was developed to combine elements of equine management into a sustainable system that saves time, money and effort and increases the health of your horses and your pasture - a true win-win-win scenario. People all around the world are now utilising The Equicentral System and it has been shown to have many positive effects on the well-being of their horses and the health and productivity of their land. By using this sustainable management system, not only has the physical health of their horses improved but owners are observing much calmer and more relaxed behaviour in their herds.
The way in which many people currently keep horses is not sustainable, meaning that it is costing more to keep them than is necessary, it is having a negative impact on the land and is creating an unnecessary workload. In many cases, the way in which horses are kept, is also detrimental to a horse's mental health.
The Equicentral System is system that works by utilising the natural and domesticated behaviour of horses to both their own, yours and the wider environment's advantage. This is combined with good land management practices to encourage and support the health of the pasture. You may have heard the term you are what you eat - the same applies to your horse, if they graze a healthy pasture they are much more likely to be healthy.
Once you get a basic understanding of how The Equicentral System works and the many benefits this system can provide you should be able to think of ways that you can incorporate it or elements of it into your own horse management system.
With The Equicentral System all the pastures (fields) are linked to a communal surfaced yard area (dry lot/loafing yard) by gates. Ideally, we avoid narrow laneways or tracks as these compact the soil (picture A), but of course, this is not always possible, and some properties will need to have laneways to take the horses out to the paddocks (picture B).
Let's presume that currently the horses are being kept in the large communal yard overnight (with hay). In the morning the gate is opened to let them out of the communal yard. The horses walk themselves to the pasture that is currently in use and carry out a grazing bout (this usually last about two to three hours). During this time, they are free to return to the communal yard for a drink although they usually do not bother until they have finished grazing. After the grazing bout has finished the horses return to the communal yard for a drink. The yard is also where the shade/shelter is situated and is a safe, comfortable place to be. This copies what horses do in the wild, travelling between where water/food/shade/shelter is, albeit for less distance in the domestic situation.
After drinking, the shade/shelter and a soft surface in the communal yard encourages the horses to rest through the middle of the day (loaf) before returning to the grazing area for another grazing bout in the afternoon. At the end of the day the horses return to the yard to await you and any supplementary feed that they may be receiving. The horses can then either be confined to the yard overnight or can be given freedom to move between the yard and their pasture overnight, just like they did through the daytime.
In this system horses are never locked in a pasture, but they are sometimes locked out of it. Access to each pasture is rotated, allowing each pasture time to rest and recover.
When conditions on the land are unsuitable for grazing, for example too wet or too dry, you can increase the use of the yard to prevent damage to the pastures and soil. The land will then make a much quicker recovery when conditions improve.
These are just some of the advantages of The Equicentral System, there are actually many, many more, far too many to go into in detail in this short article.
Again, these are just a few recommendations/ideas, there are many, many more.
However, The Equicentral System is not just about the layout and the infrastructure (surfaced communal yard, open gates, pasture rotation etc.) although they are vital to making it work, just as important is the philosophy behind it:
Of course, having all the infrastructure in place and doing everything by the ‘book’ is ideal, but horse keeping it is all about compromise (but without compromising the environment). You have to do what works for you in your situation, but at the same time think about the impact on your horse/s and the land that they live on. If something isn’t working, think (or ask) why. Sometimes a couple of small changes is all that is needed. This is a system that can evolve with your needs and the needs of your horse/s.
If you cannot put all the elements in straight away, think about what is achievable now, where are you having the most issues, what can you do now that will make the biggest difference. By continually making small but significant changes you can really make a positive difference to the equine lifestyle of you and your horses.
Even if you do not own the land that your horses live on and you have limited opportunities to make changes there is still a lot you can do. Stick with us and we will show you how.
Sustainable horsekeeping is about a lifestyle choice: The Equicentral System is a system that encourages the horse owner to work with natural processes to create healthy pasture for healthy horses that also conserves resources such as soil and water, whilst minimising environmental impact. The system becomes resilient, self-regulating and a good equine lifestyle is maintained.
The Equicentral System saves money, time, is much more sustainable than traditional horse keeping systems and fits in well with natural horse behaviour while at the same time allows good land and wider environmental management.
Take good care of the land that your horse lives on and in return it will take good care of your horses.
“I'm so happy and grateful I found this system! This lovely boy used to shiver in the rain even in a rug when we first owned him. Now he's fluffy and naked and grazing in the rain. He would run to shelter at the first drop now he can come and go as he pleases with fibre at all times.” Leanne Watson
“I have attended many of your seminars, property visits and talks over the years and always look forward to the next one. Getting back to basics and keeping things simple but effective is essential for horse health and happiness. I have already been converted into a ‘grass farmer’ making further improvements to my own property since the seminar. Thank you both, on behalf of all horses.” Lynne, Canberra
“I went to one of the talks in Taree a couple of years ago, (rather arrogantly thinking I'd know most of it already). It was life changing for me, my horses, and my paddocks. I now enjoy smugly comparing the biodiversity on my place compared to the neighbours!” Kathryn Warwick
“I bought the books and can't stop reading.... they are so, so informative and clear. Also, they are for lay people so a degree in horticulture is not necessary! I got them today ad my pasture is in big trouble and I was panicking - but even the small amount of reading I have done has given me a little more confidence and the ability to step back and think things through. It is going to take some planning and effort and I am feeling inspired.” Sharon Brown
Hopefully this has given you an overview of what The Equicentral System is about. Remember: this is just a very brief description. There is lots more to learn. Keep in touch and we will teach you all about Sustainable Horse Management!
Jane Myers and Stuart Myers - Equiculture
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