HoofGroove and EasyCare visit a high tech natural boarding facility.
I recently visited a horse boarding facility in Switzerland that uses technology to combat some of the challenges horses have with domestication. The facility addresses several challenges that face most domesticated horses.
1. Lack of movement.
2. Adjusting nutrition and calories for horses of different breeds, weights and activity levels.
3. Boredom and the loss of a herd structure.
4. Spreading meals thought the day rather than two big meals.
5. Poor footing and lack of hoof function.
The boarding facility was 15 minutes outside Zurich, Switzerland, and was situated on roughly four acres of land. The 20 horses were housed on roughly two acres. All 20 horses lived together as a herd. All horses were barefoot. Most all used hoof boots for riding.
The facility revolved around the Schauer Feeding and access control system and is designed to combat many of the challenges mentioned above. Each horse is fitted with a microchip collar that monitors movement and gives the horse access to grain, supplements or forage based on activity level, weight or breed.
The video below shows a horse entering the grain area after access was granted with the microchip collar. Because the horse is a heavier breed and in good weight he was not administered grain. The horse was encouraged to depart after grain was not administered. The heavy horses are then required to walk around the barn to rejoin the herd.
After horses go through the grain station, they are automatically sent different directions based on what they need for calories. Skinny horses are sent into a free choice hay section. Fat horses are sent another way and have to walk around the entire barn to rejoin the herd.
The system is completely controlled by computer. Not only can you adjust how many times each horse is given grain, but you can adjust the quantity of each feeding. Horses that have had their share or don't need grain are allowed into the shoot but no grain is administered. They then have to walk around the barn to try again or rejoin the herd.
The Schauer Computer system shows what each horse has eaten and how many times they enter a station.
The facility was the most impressive use of technology I've seen in the horse industry in a long time. The systems addressed the challenges horses face in domesticated environments and allowed 20 horses to live as a herd on 2 acres. Each horse had a custom diet, each horse received exercise and each horse had the opportunity to live as a herd animal.
President & CEO
I have been President and CEO of EasyCare since 1993. My first area of focus for the company is in product development, and my goal is to design the perfect hoof boot for the barefoot horse.