Horse evolution began some 65 million years ago and domestication only occurred relatively recently in evolutionary history.
Domestication takes horses from an environment in which they have adapted to survive and forces them to live in an environment convenient to humans.
This includes restricting the horses freedom to roam, choose appropriate food, shelter, mates and social companions.
This can lead to welfare issues as horses are frustrated because they cannot carry out instinctive, natural behaviours.
-The Welfare of Horses, Natalie Waran
We currently have 17 horses and try to manage them as naturally as our facilities and climate allow.
Our horses live in stable herd structures so that each horse understands his place in the herd and feels safe and secure and also prevents hostile, aggressive behaviour and injury.
The ponies live out all year round to allow freedom of movement. This can mean they might not be as well groomed as they could be, especially during the winter, but they are happy healthy horses nonetheless.
The horses are stabled at night during the winter months but we provide all day turnout on sand paddocks to avoid them standing in the mud and destroying the fields.
We keep our horses barefoot, this means we do not nail metal shoes onto their feet. This has a number of advantages, including the horses remain sounder for longer, there is less risk of injury in the field between horses, and the horses health is optimised. Due to modern horse management the horse can find working with out shoes quite difficult, so incorporating a more natural lifestyle allows ours to work sound without shoes. In the event that a horse does go footsore, we use special hoof boots.
Using shoes on horses has many negative long term effects. If you would like to understand more please visit some of the links on our links page.
We do not fertilise our fields with chemicals because this affects soil composition and grass structure making the horse more susceptible to health problems such as laminitis. Instead we use well rotted horse manure!
Artificial nitrogen treatment of crops does several things to our food and our environment:
Our pastures are regulary maintained, rotated and weeds removed.
All of our horses are wormed regularly, have passports and are regularly vaccinated.