SO, WHERE ARE WE AT?
I have been cajoled, bullied and generally put upon by Amelia and Anna to restart these missives as so many people appreciated them during the first lockdown, and especially now we have entered a third one with otherwise not a word from me, and that is if people really are interested in what I may have to say, which to be honest, I doubt.
As my areas of expertise are business and horses, the latter would be a good place to start and I hope this blog proves interesting to those who would like to understand more about our equine friends.
LET HORSES BE HORSES
Over the decades I have become progressively more inclined to keep horses as close to their natural habitat as possible. The results have proven quite startling. Contented, relaxed animals that have very few ailments comparative to their stabled companion, easier to train, easier to look after and certainly easier to handle and keep fit.
Horses are a herd animal, used to travelling around in large groups (for safety), covering around 19 miles a day to graze at sparse ground vegetation over varying terrain. This combination of exercise and trickle food source is how they kept themselves healthy and how their digestive systems are designed to operate.
So what to do we do to them? We isolate and confine them by putting them in boxes, we give them unnatural “meals” and then we rug them up to the eyeballs so they look all warm and cosy – preventing their very clever thermoregulatory systems to work efficiently.
These stabled horses suffer from a range of ills that do not (or very rarely) affect the grass kept animal. They get the deadly colic, they get cast on their backs in their stables, trying to take a roll; they develop respiratory disorders because their lungs are not designed to be in an enclosed, dusty environment; they develop stomach ulcers from the artificial diet and stress due to being separated from their companions; they suffer obesity due to artificial meals and lack of movement, and they develop the much reviled life-long stable “vices” which we are only just starting to really understand the cause of.
Having observed and cared for many horses during my life, I bought Lavant because it is the right land type and of sufficient acreage to be able to keep my competition horses living out; the tiny riding school already being situ was incidental. As it was already here (if in a much different mould to today) the business side of me was piqued and it took off from the day one, but that’s another story.
And finally, there is a sea of change in the perception of how horses should be allowed to live and it is gaining serious momentum thanks to top riders, World Horse Welfare and the equestrian press all advocating change is now essential.
However, this necessary change to the way we have historically kept horses brings its own issues in that this is an over-crowded, wet country, which means many equestrian establishments do not have sufficient acreage of the right soil type to make this change to the way their horses are managed. Stables = income, so many sites are over-populated with stables against the available turn-out and this is what is starting to be addressed in the last update of the Animal Welfare bill.
Despite all of this, I still felt pressured to supply more stables, hence the inclusion of the bespoke stable block built in 2019. This was carefully designed so it had larger than usual stables, with a high ceiling to improve the ventilation and light, and critically all horses can see each other, wherever they are when inside the block. However there is nothing better for the horse than being able to live out 24/7 with their friends.
A horse knows how to be a horse, it is time we learned to think like a horse, so we can keep them in the best possible way that is best for their health welfare and well-being – not ours.