الإثنين 22 يوليو 2024

What Does My Horse Really Need?

موقع أيام نيوز

The conversation surrounding needs is interesting and complex in terms of our nonspeaking horses especially within a culture that has a historically tricky relationship with the expression of needs. For the purpose of this article lets define a need as either a base need required for survival namely food water shelter and movement or a need required to thrive such as friends space play touch connection purpose praiseaffirmation supplementation and interesting activities. When it comes to our relationship with our horse the combination of the perceived needs of the rider and the potential needs of their horse can be a space of connecting growth or disconnecting frustration depending on our perspective and openness to collaborative solutions.

When my mare Diva first arrived in my life over 16 years ago we were both living in Victoria British Columbia. Diva lived at a barn with stalls for overnight and tiny paddocks during the day. She was four years old at the time. Over our three years in Victoria we experimented with various living situations as Diva became noticeably anxious in smaller individual paddocks and more crowded barns and much less anxious in field turnout with a small herd. At the same time my understanding of horses was shifting daily as I studied to become an Equine Sports Therapist causing me to become more attuned to Divas emotional state and curious about her unique needs and progressively more tuned in to her level of contentment and wellbeing.
In her final winter boarding situation in Victoria she was living in a small walkout paddock at the end of a barn row near a dark forest ravine with electric fencing and ceilinghigh stall walls preventing her from connecting with her neighbour. In this situation she became progressively more anxious and stressed over several months to the point of becoming dangerous. Her base needs of food water shelter and some movement were being met but not her thriving needs of friends space variety natural spaces no electric fence and freedom. Feeling like I was losing my horse I made the decision to move my whole family up to the Cowichan Valley that January to a place where there was a herd no electric fence or stalls lots of space to graze and move and endless trails for us to explore. Once these specific needs were met she transformed almost overnight back into the horse I knew and loved.