2020 Equine Dreams Challenge ~ 20th of December 2019
Truly instilling a life which is natural to horses allowing them to play out natural behaviour can be difficult at times. I know many people stable their horses and may only visit their horse one or twice a day just to feed. Even some may require boarding. It truly can be hard and with a certain difficulty or securing your own adequate land makes it all the harder. As you may be aware, I am a strong advocate for allowing a horse to freely rom and move and graze 24 hours of the day. Stalling horses can surmount to cribbing, box weaving, wind sucking and box walking, all signs of anxiety and psychological disturbances. Many of which are caused by boredom, living alone without herd companionship, physical discomfort and development of ulcers caused by emotional stress and a lack of food. It is hard to spread out feeding for your horse when they are confined to a stall gorging on one or two meals a day when horses natural graze for 605 of a 24 hours day. But then we have the conundrum – the wet and mud and the churning up of paddocks. Living in the west of Scotland, yes, we have a lot of rain and winter brings wild storms. Now that is all natural for horses and they really do not bother. Freedom of movement allows them to find the best sheltered spots or the travel to find the lee of a hill for example. But well, horses are confined to small paddocks often to control over-eating the rich grass in the summer months. O r more commonly spend their time in the stall during the winter may be with a few rides out (if the weather is fair enough). Of course, it would be so much easier if we had that huge acreage of land which consisted of rough hilly grazing and maybe lower richer pasture with plenty of native trees and gorse for shelter. But alas, that is so hard to find and in the world of consumerism, farming takes up most of the UK and trees and hedgerows have ben replaced with huge extensive lifeless wind-swept fields. The high grazing sheep have it the best and that is the land you always have an eye on hoping and wishing.
So what can we really do to help nurture a way of life which is natural to our horses? Well, for me, it is to pray for frosty weather and snow before the awakening of spring! But indeed, trying to incorporate complete freedom of movement is so vital for your horse. Ultimately, do not anthropomorphise your horses, that is put human values on them. That may be the most detrimental oversight people od for all animal companions such as dogs, cats, rabbits and horses. In fact, we should take guidance from our fellow animal friends and rather than mirroring ourselves in them, instead reflect their way of life back in to our own, that returning to nature and living presently, leaving behind materialistic consumerism and peel your eyes away from the tv, computer and ipads. Why not make 2020 a time to nurture a very natural way of life for your animal and bring that too into your own life. There wont be anything more nourishing to heart, body and soul.
Returning to our equine friends. Horses truly appreciate our attention to them, and a sense of acknowledgement. They are very social animals and communicate through subtle body language and that beautiful heart. How many people walks best their horses in a stall too busy to get on with chores or hurry back to watch something. Time is always moving to fast for us but really, is it that bad? If so, make changes!
I know many are not fortunate to have their horses at their own homes and I do understand that. Maybe you have to drive far to spend time with them. And therefore, helping to assist them in living their natural behaviour can be challenging.
But I must say this, that many who have horses use them only for riding or to excel in dressage or win jumping ribbons. Outside of that harsh driven training often their lacks spirit and a companionship built on trust between equals.
Make 2020 a time of nourishing your horse, yourself and your relationship built on trust, healing, harmony, fun and a true sense of valuing time together which should not be pencilled in a to do list or diary.
There are also ways in which you can support a sense of natural grazing instead of your horses gorging on one or two meals a day. And this will all depend on your horse. I have three very different ponies. An elderly one who must get a blend of yummy mushy feed due to her lack of teeth. And a mini Shetland and a welsh mountain pony who can really survive on nothing. But in the wild they will travel far to find food. So, I feed my ponies five times a day, smaller amounts but spread out. The eldest gets her mushy feed but also what the other two get to avoid boredom and a sense of normal grazing. I incorporate hay, lucie stalks which encourage very slow eating, a timothy hay, lucie or timothy hay bricks and balls stuffed with hay which allows them to work hard and can be fun for them encouraging them to move. Thomthumb, my mini, loves to run after it and give back kicks. So, I am out there from early hours in the morning come rain, wind or very few shine. I wouldn’t have it any other way for I am their guardians and I took on a responsibility to ensure they can exhibit most natural behaviour and life a health life.
So please take part in my 2020 Equine Dreams Challenge. Share your stories and companionship with your equine friends and what you challenge yourself to do for 2020. You can post in my faccebook page or my Instagram tagging #2020equinedreamschallenge and #equinedreamsvision. Please also remember to tag me in your photos with @chantingwillowsanimalhealing.
My own vision for my equine companionship is ever growing and a journey of learning. And you can read more of my journey in the Equine Dreams section of the site and follow my Instagram.
Most wonderful blessings and wishes for you and your animals in 2020. Take steps to making the changes, no matter how small to reach for the life you truly wish to have for you and your animals