Horse Welfare and Rider Responsibility

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I’ve been wanting to write on this for a quite a while. I feel so, so, passionate towards animal welfare, but I also understand that among different countries, cultures, and necessity the value and treatment of our animals can be quite different. But, even so, I do want to proudly stand for what I believe is a conversation that should be had among our fellow-riders.

As modern medicine, data on safety-concerns, and a general increasing population that voices concerns over animal welfare it would appear that strides are being made in the right direction. We are even sending veterinarians and able people to other countries to teach people how to better care for their work animals so they are they able to have longer, healthy, lives. I will link one organization that I’ve been following below if you’d like more information.

Photo courtesy of US Eventing/Jessica Duffy

But with my own animals, I want to be able to make the best decisions regarding their comfort and long-term wellness given the means that I have to do that. And, even outside of the financial requirements to provide for my horses, what daily actions can I take to provide a better environment for my horses? It’s a conversation I think each rider and horse-owner can have with themselves. Sometimes I believe we don’t, just because its uncomfortable and we don’t want to admit to ourselves that most of our requests of our animals, especially those of us who use them for our sport, are for our own selfish, albeit passionate and well-meaning, goals.

But why can’t we face this conversation? For the sake of younger riders coming through the system, with points to be earned, and championships to qualify for, we must for the welfare of the horse, instill the same heart for horsemanship and stewardship of the animals we’ve been gifted. As important as achieving a championship qualification.

And whether it’s your personal decision to keep your retiree, warm up your metal-bit before a icy hack in the rain, or avoid placing your frustrations from a long-day onto your horse, I think it’s a conversation each rider should have with themselves as to what self-serving equestrian goals we have might actually be a detriment to the animals we care about.  I think each persons limit and result will be a little different. It’s not even feasible for everyone to make the same choices due to your own financial or experience level. But, it’s a conversation to have. And if we’re all a little more encouraged to view ourselves as good stewards of our horses and the horses around us, the level of care and well-being of the animals is sure to increase.

This organization really does make a difference. Vets and professionals are sent to other countries through Brooke to train and provide medical care for work animals from horses, mules, and donkeys. Click the image below to find out more information and how to be involved.






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