I absolutely love horses! I continue to educate myself every day, and am eager to learn new things about these magnificent creatures. Science comes out with new insights every year, and as a horse owner you need to continue to read up and keep an open mind to be able to give your horses what they deserve! That is what horse welfare is all about.

Me with one of my horses: Cooper Milo
Me with one of my horses: Cooper

Horse lovers unite

You don’t need to ride horses to appreciate them. Horse lovers come in all shapes and sizes. Since horses are smart, trustworthy, big and strong, they can help us in every day tasks. A century ago they brought us from one place to another, or helped on the land. These days we also compete with them. The past decades competitions, whether in dressage, jumping racing or another discipline have become more lucrative, with horses selling for large sums of money, and people competing for big prizes, even including the Olympics.

My experience with equestrian competitions

Years ago I also competed with my horse Key West and I enjoyed the two of us going to different places and be a team. I just liked going on adventure with him and winning was not the major incentive, even though we won quite a few prizes! As I live in NYC I could not continue riding but stayed involved, and I made sure my horses were well taken care of at all times (or I thought that was the case).

Horse Welfare is in the spotlight

For years riders got all the attention and applause when they would win medals in competitions. But there is a movement going on. More and more people realize that horses have feelings too. They just can’t really express themselves like for instance a human or a dog can do. They cannot scream or whine when in pain. That makes it that many people miss the signs of discomfort in a horse, with sometimes terrible results. (just like my court case about my abused horse U2). There is an awakening happening. People realize that many riders “use” horses for their own gains, and maybe sometimes at the expense of the wellbeing of the horse. Just like I had to open my eyes the past years to see the Truth, they want to change the equestrian World and bring more horse welfare to it. Because if we don’t speak up, who will?

What is horse Welfare?

Many people have different ideas about what is horse welfare. Some people think it is a safe stable, a clean bed, and a horse that gets a massage or is washed every day. Others think it is a horse that can roam around 24/7 with his or her friends, and can find shelter whenever he or she wants to. I think it is just a horse that can spend his day showing natural behavior, a horse that experience the least stress as possible. A horse that doesn’t experience pain inflicted by humans. I think we can achieve that while still enjoying the company of horses. (As long as it is not all about the money or winning prizes)

My horses

My horses U2 and Cooper are doing fine under the circumstances and I have brought them to a place where they get exactly what they need. For me ever since I owned horses, it has always been the most important to give them the best care I could find.

The future of equestrian

Recent articles (in the Netherlands) questions the wellbeing of horses at competitions like Jumping Amsterdam, as well as discussing the idea if we really should ride horses at all. This is a discussion that the equestrian World wants to dismiss as “just wanting to put the amazing equestrian sports in a bad light”, instead of actually listening to these claims, which have Truth to them and working on making the sports better. If they continue to dismiss and continue life as is, the opposition will just get stronger and it will start hurting the equestrian businesses and competitions. It is in the riders’ hands how they treat their horses and work to improve the wellbeing of the horses that will determine the future of the sports.

There is a lot to discuss about horses, for instance on how we treat and keep them, and I will continue to be a voice for them!

READ MORE: the carriage horses in NYC

I have made a video about horse welfare (see above) I hope you check it out and subscribe to my Youtube Channel.

Love, Lonneke

Some photos by Joey Holthaus