Back in 2009, TSB teamed up with green-living horsewoman and writer Lucinda Dyer to create the first book of eco-conscious tips and ideas for the equestrian community. ECO-HORSEKEEPING was called a “handy, inspiring, easy-to-read book” that “provides perfectly prepackaged tips, ideas, and expert advice” by Smartpak Founder Rebecca Minard.
“There’s no reason why each and every one of us can’t make owning, riding, and loving horses a planet-friendly activity to be enjoyed for generations to come,” writes Minard in the foreword to ECO-HORSEKEEPING.
On the eve of Earth Day 2016, we again consider the role that each and every one of us plays as stewards of the environment at large, and most certainly of the equine environment—which ensures the health and happiness of our horses. Have each of us taken a few small steps toward limiting our footprint, lowering our impact, and preserving our natural world?
“The following are just a few ways horses and horsepeople impact the environment at large,” write veterinarian Dr. Allen Schoen and horse trainer Susan Gordon in THE COMPASSIONATE EQUESTRIAN. “These are factors that require thought in order to ensure the equine industry is not negatively affecting our world but rather contributing to it in the best way possible.”
• Transportation of feed.
• Maintenance of buildings and facilities to house horses.
• Consumption of water.
• Management of manure and barn waste.
• Transportation of horses to shows, clinics, training facilities.
• Creation of waste related to products and services needed to maintain
• Runoff from pastures and paddocks.
• Overgrazing land both domestically and in the wild.
• Overpopulation due to overbreeding and unwanted animals.
So how do we put on the green-tinted glasses, and keep them on even when we leave the recycle-friendly world of work and home and head for the barn?
When boarding, “research how your horse’s home could possibly be made safer, cleaner, and less toxic, and bring a list of reasonable steps to the barn’s manager,” recommend Dr. Schoen and Gordon. “Offer to help. Many equestrian operations tend to run at low to no profit, so issues of finances are often the first to be considered when changes are suggested. Even when those changes would lead to a much better environment for both horses and humans, the costs may seem prohibitive. Encourage small, affordable steps, as little changes can ultimately make a significant difference in the horse’s well-being.
“When on your own property with just your own horses, you can make a personal project out of determining what will help make your barn and property less toxic and more environmentally friendly. Put together a step-by-step plan, and, then start with the simplest thing. Do what you can under the circumstances and always remember you are benefiting all beings just by becoming conscious and aware of environmental concerns. Horses and equestrian facilities have a significant impact on their immediate and neighboring surroundings and it literally ‘takes a village’ of like-minded participants to become aware of issues with the keeping, feeding, watering, and transportation of animals, and it takes that village once again to actually improve the state of things.”
With small, doable, affordable steps in mind, and the long hot days of summer just around the corner, here are a few water conservation tips from ECO-HORSEKEEPING to kick off your Earth Day 2016 weekend:
- Lose the Drip: Fix or replace everything in your barn that leaks or drips, be it a faucet, hose, or toilet. A faucet that drips at one drop per second wastes 7 gallons of water a day and 2,700 gallons a year.
- Go Low-Flow: Make certain all your barn water hoses have nozzles that let you adjust the spray as needed, as well as a “trigger” that allows you to shut off the flow of water completely while soaping up dirty legs or conditioning tangled tails.
- Reuse Water Whenever Possible: STOP! Before you mindlessly toss that half-a bucket of water from your horse’s stall into the driveway—can it be used to control dust in the round pen or water plants around the barn?
- Hook Up a Rain Barrel: A rain barrel can be easily connected to one or more of your barn’s downspouts to collect water that would otherwise simply wash away. Use the harvested water to wash trucks, trailers, and farm equipment; water the rings; and cool down hot horses with a pleasant sponge bath.
- Go Grunge: The easiest step in reducing water use is the obvious one! Get choosy about when and how you use it. Before you hook up the hose yet again: Just how clean does your horse really have to be today? Are you riding in a clinic with George Morris or taking a leisurely afternoon trail ride? Whenever possible, ask yourself, “Will a strong arm and a curry do the job?”
CLICK HERE for more tips for an Equine-centric Earth Day.
Trafalgar Square Books, the leading publisher of equestrian books and DVDs, is a small business based on a farm in rural Vermont.