Some of the methods adopted at Eureka affect mares from 45 days confirmed pregnancy and also foals from the time they are weaned,. We believe there are three major factors that are paramount to the successful development of a weanling.
Balancing Feed & Exercise
It is not enough to simply drop your feed in the paddock tins and hope every mare and/or weanling will receive enough nutrients to sustain growth to full development. By reducing the maximum numbers to approximately six to 10 per paddock we can, with a watchful eye, individually note which animals are spending more time at the tins and less time grazing and vice-versa.
Also, due to the richness of this land - we are blessed with a freshwater running creek. One of the great features of this flowing creek is it denies any stagnation when used by horses for drinking. This, I believe, is of fundamental importance, as horses tend to release mucus and any other buildups when drinking as running water purifies. Therefore, another horse in the same paddock is not put at risk of acquiring infection from drinking polluted water.
We also exercise our yearlings by leading them off lead ponies for approximately three kilometers per day. They are also hand walked every day and, by putting this grounding into their routine, we are finding a more athletic individual being developed.
We take the approach that worming is just not enough, and the development of the new system at Eureka involves rotation and purification of paddocks for mares in foals.
Once we have wormed a mare, we return her to the original paddock for 12 hour. This enables her to remove any waste. After this 12-hour period, we transfer the mare to a paddock which has been treated and left vacant for a period of 12 weeks. During this 12-week period the gestation period of parasites has been eliminated and the paddock, due to its non-use by horses, is free of parasites.
We base the success of this practice on the results of the last number of years and from studying all horses at Eureka.
Psychology of Horses
Thirdly, what we believe is another important element, is the psychology of horses. We have found after careful analysis and study that horses and, especially, weanlings have a similar nature to that of humans.
Take, for example, a primary school classroom. You have some bullies who would get to the front of the line before others and some less forward classmates who would, for one reason or another, never compete, whether it was in the classroom, playground or just anything. What we have found is that, by separating these personalities, say bullies in one paddock, the less precocious ones in another, we are able to give a more equal opportunity to each animal to nurture its unique personality.
This is not a technique that has been developed overnight, but through four generations; certain methods and skills have been learned and passed on. Another unique concept we have employed is that all paddocks are double fenced without any electric wires. Again this is proving to assist the maturity and development of trust between the horse and ourselves.