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How far does a wild horse travel in a day?

 
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xenophon
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Joined: 24 Mar 2009
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Location: Northern Idaho

PostPosted: Fri Mar 25, 2011 7:23 pm    Post subject: How far does a wild horse travel in a day? Reply with quote

How far does the average wild horse travel on a daily basis and can anyone direct me to any studies confirming this?

I have heard several well respected individuals say that a wild horse travels 20-30 miles in a day, but they fail to cite any studies backing up this claim.  However, there is one study I am aware of  that shows  that wild horses may travel far shorter distances in a given 24 hour period.  This study was conducted by Brian Hampson and Dr. Pollitt on Australian brumbys.  Their study caused them to conclude that a wild horse, in spite of having a much larger range, only travels about 8km (about 5 miles) in a 24 hour period.  Mr. Hampson further speculated that if a horse is required to move much more than this to reach adequate nutrition and water it is probably living on the edge of survival.

I have monitored each of my five horses in their donut shaped 400 yard circumference paddock using a satellite tracking device similar to the one Mr. Hampson used on his wild brumby study and my experiment echoed the findings of Hampson and Pollitt.

I think that this is important because if a horse in the wild truly only travels about 5 miles in a 24 hour period, as opposed to the 20-30 often cited, this may change what one might reasonably expect performance wise from a barefoot hoof even under ideal domestic conditions.  If the five mile distance cited is accurate and unless it can be demonstrated that a domestic bare hoof can be conditioned to exceed the performance of a wild bare hoof (certainly a possibility), some hoof protection should probably no longer be considered an option as much as an imperative if a trail ride or other demands on a hoof might more easily exceed what has been coined as "natural".

Are there many or even any endurance riders out there who regularly ride 20-30 miles with no hoof protection?

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PasoBaby_CarolU
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 25, 2011 7:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I worked for 30 years at Dugway Proving Ground with several herds of wild horses.  They are much like domestic horses in that they don't normally travel farther then they need to for food and water.   We had a test grid called "grassy plots" where we laid down several acres of sod and watered it, using it for several years.   There was a well drilled and water source right there.   We never had to mow it, a small band of 4-12 horses took care of that.   They were there night and day for several years except when we chased them away to test on the grass.

Where they planted grass in the Housing and Technical areas, the horses there hung around also.  They finally fenced the housing area because they became a problem with children, dogs and walking in the dark.

As part of Back Country Horsemen, one of our service projects is riding to a seep and cleaning it so the horses can drink.   We do this with the BLM.   This is much more normal herd of wild horses.  What we see is in the spring when there is good grass close by the horses stay pretty close to the water.   As the summer days lengthen they travel farther each day in search of grass, but come back for the water.  

My thoughts are that while they can and often do travel 20+ miles a day, they don't unless they have to.
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thebundychick
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 25, 2011 9:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Can I reccommend the book "Paddock Paradise" by Jaime Jackson.

Absolutely brilliant book, he explains exactly what you're talking about - and I think you'll find he cites referances to the various studies. Because he himself did one

Basically yes - horses are bred to travel large distances, hence the state of their feet. When you put them in a paddock put there food and water next to each other, they won't move.

Jaime even mentions a study that someone did by putting a GPS tracker on their horses and monitoring his movements - got the same results you did. Hardly moved.

He even said he went out to visit some of the BLM horses and couldn't understand why their feet were so bad, considering the fact that they were on a ridiculous amount of property, before he realized that they were the same as domestic horses. Food and water together.. horse hangs out for the food, doesn't bother moving.

Once you turn your paddock into a "paddock paradise", create walk ways, gravel paths, water crossings, sand patches, rock hard surfaces and grass, the results are entirely different. With paddock Paradise, you turn you paddock into a "labyrinth", dispersing their food all over the place - and you end up with a horse that chalks up a staggering number of kilometres
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xenophon
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Location: Northern Idaho

PostPosted: Fri Mar 25, 2011 11:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Paddock Paradise was my inspiration for how I have my paddock set up.  It used to be an open 3+ acres, but now I have a track installed using many of the recommendations in that book.  I'm not sure how I could improve upon it, although I did make one alteration that I believe increased my horse's movement.  That is why when I used the GPS tracker on my horses and their travel was right in line with Brian Hampson's study of wild horses in Australia I was pretty happy.  I sent an excited note to Jaime Jackson about this movement increasing alteration of his Paddock Paradise idea but I never heard back from him.  I'm sure he is a very busy person.

I don't remember Jaime mentioning tracking horses from day to day (my memory could be faulty and I gave the book to a friend) during his study  to see just how far they move in a day, and I don't know if the technology for satellite tracking of a horse was around when he conducted his studies.  Without the aid of GPS I'm not sure just how one could accurately know how far a horse moves in a 24 hour period without following them around.  That could prove pretty difficult but not impossible, I suppose.

Brian Hampson's study was done in a huge area (thousands of acres) on an old cattle station that had sparse food and only one water hole.  Horses regularly went 3 and 4 days without water as they foraged for food.  One horse that he temporalily introduced to the area went an incredible 7 days without water while in search for food.  This just about killed this horse and so it was recaptured and returned to its home range that was not quite so harsh.

So the range in this area of study was large enough.  The food was sparse requiring the horses to venture far away for sustenance.  There was only one watering hole ensuring that they had to return when thirst overwhelmed hunger.  Tough horses, these brumbys.  I don't know how one could create a situation that would encourage a horse to move more, but these horses, by GPS tracking, moved only an average of about 8km, or 5 miles a day.

This is at odds with what Jackson and others have said about wild mustang living in similar situations, so I just wanted to see what data he and others have used to make their claims.  They may be correct, but I want to see if there claims are based on hard data, and educated guess, or something in between.
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thebundychick
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 26, 2011 12:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

From memory it wasn't Jaime that put the tracker on his horse, it was some other horse owner - who did it and told Jaime about it. I'll have to dig the books out now

I bought a set of 4 books of Jaime Jackson, and the borders are littered with references to different studies etc etc. I'll dig them all out and reference a few, I know there have been heaps of studies done.

Watch this space
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PasoBaby_CarolU
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 26, 2011 12:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

There is a lot of "romance" (i.e., misinformation) about mustangs in a lot of literature.  I'm sure some is based on real horses somewhere, but can hardly be assumed to be true of all wild horses.  The first thing our local BLM does after a round up is trim feet.   Go figure.

I do think Pasture Paradise is best for horses.
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Carol Nudell
Corazon de Oro Paso Finos

"The path to your horse's heart lies through your own."

"A man's most valuable trait is a judicious sense of what not to believe."  Euripides 480-406 BCE

‎"Great minds discuss ideas; Average minds discuss activities; Small minds discuss people." - Eleanor Roosevelt
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xenophon
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Location: Northern Idaho

PostPosted: Sat Mar 26, 2011 12:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I will watch this space and I agree that pasture paradise is the way to go.
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Kim Cassidy
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 26, 2011 3:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

PasoBaby_CarolU wrote:
There is a lot of "romance" (i.e., misinformation) about mustangs in a lot of literature.  I'm sure some is based on real horses somewhere, but can hardly be assumed to be true of all wild horses.  The first thing our local BLM does after a round up is trim feet.   Go figure.


I agree Carol, I call it the Disney Tale of Horses.  I see many barefoot proponents suggesting all horses do 20 miles per day and that just doesn't gibe with what I know of horse behavior.

As for Jamie Jackson, he has certainly not gps'd or tracked horses for days, weeks and months on end to determine the Disney Tale of horses roaming 20 miles a day.  Horses try not to move to much from what I can see.

Not to mention that these horses are NOT carrying any human on their back.  

Doesn't make Paddock Paradise a bad thing, Just Sayin
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creekwood
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 04, 2011 12:50 am    Post subject: Re: How far does a wild horse travel in a day? Reply with quote

xenophon wrote:

Are there many or even any endurance riders out there who regularly ride 20-30 miles with no hoof protection?

Comments?


Here's Ziya's feet after a 30 miler in the high desert in Oregon. Mostly sand/dirt & Volcanic rock. All A's on vet card. 8 year old arab mare.

ETA: Karen Chaton did the GPS overnight thing too, maybe if you did a search on her blog, you'd find it?


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Saddlebag
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PostPosted: Sat May 07, 2011 12:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Each winter, altho the past one was an exception, my big round bale was set off as far away as possible from the water and out in the open. They'd come for water three times daily travelling back and forth from the bale. In windy weather they also travelled to the shelter which wasn't handy to the water. Observation taught me that it is better to set out two large bales as far apart as possible. As the horses squabble over one, one horse will go to the other bale. Before you know it the others are there so it keeps them moving better than with one bale.
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xenophon
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PostPosted: Sun May 08, 2011 7:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

To Creekwood:  That is just the type of anecdotal info I have been looking for.  Thanks.  One breed that keeps popping up over and over again when it comes to successful extreme barefoot riding is the Arabian.  I just found this yesterday in William Clark's (of Lewis and Clark) journal:

"LaBeech killed a fat buffalo bull and the hide was used to make mockersons for the horse that had sore feet."

I don't think they had any Arabians on that trip.

To Saddlebag:  Good observation!
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PasoBaby_CarolU
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PostPosted: Sun May 08, 2011 7:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My anecdotal information about horses feet is that horses, just like people, are individuals.  Just as some people have thick hair and nice fingernails, others have thin hair and brittle fingernails.   The same is true for horses.  I have two horses that 24 and 25.  They have lived together since the younger one was five months old and weaned.  He has horrible, soft feet, that grow into big platters between trims, he gets frequent stone bruises and abscesses.  She grows high heals, has tough feet, has never needed a shoe or treatment of any kind, never had a foot problem.  They eat the same thing - usually from the same trough, and travel the same distances around the round coral and in their dry lot.  

I think horses either have the good genes for good feet or they don't.  The only comparison I will make to wild horses is that Nature has a way of eliminating horses with bad feet - they become lion food.   So, THAT is where I make my analogy to nature...if you want to kill a horse with bad feet, that is your prerogative.  I think I'll just shoe them and ride on.   I do believe it is cruel to insist that all horses go barefoot, to assume that their feet will toughen up if they are ridden on hard surfaces or gravel long enough.  Not all will.  I've seen too many horses go off trail and lay down the second they are back in camp BECAUSE OF SORE FEET, to believe any differently.
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Carol Nudell
Corazon de Oro Paso Finos

"The path to your horse's heart lies through your own."

"A man's most valuable trait is a judicious sense of what not to believe."  Euripides 480-406 BCE

‎"Great minds discuss ideas; Average minds discuss activities; Small minds discuss people." - Eleanor Roosevelt
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Clarissa
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PostPosted: Mon May 09, 2011 12:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This might interest some people.

http://hoofrehab.com/pollitt%20brumby.htm

You will find a link to Chris's website at the bottom of the page.
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