It's a tricky word "ownership". I have one horse Kez. My horse is part of our family. Yes we are responsible for Kez and are his guardian. The relationship I have with him is a partnership and friendship. So thinking of how the word ownership could impact on the relationship is tricky. However if someone was to try and steal him I would be right away claiming ownership.
For sure it is uncomfortable to think of ownership of another sentient being. However guardianship, ownership whatever you want to call it is about stepping up to the plate of responsibility for the equines in our care. Many of us who own horses it is about a high quality of life for our equines that is compassionate and ethical. There is a growing tide of us who see a spirit and soul in our horses and we seek the very best for our equines, mentally, physically and spiritually. The relationship is at the heart of everything we do.
Sadly in the UK we are in the grip of a horrific equine crisis and there are many equines who have no caring, loving, compassionate guardian. I think we all need to reflect upon the issue regarding equine ownership and what it means for horses. Horses have very little legal protection from neglect, abuse and a poor quality of life. I don’t have the answer to this crisis. However I do feel passionately that all equines deserve the right to a good quality of life. This is down to humans to provide. I feel for the greater good and welfare of all equines it would be good practice to have a working system of accountability and tracking. Humans are the guardians of the equines in their care and sadly many horses are being failed by the system.
Currently legal ownership of a horse isn’t always easy to prove. Even though equines by law should have a passport, and be chipped this is issued to aid identification of an animal not provide proof of ownership. Many breeders operate outside this system and plenty of equines have no passports or chips. Even horses with passports legal cases are common around ownership of equines. So when the equine is suffering who does the buck stop with?
We have an overbreeding crisis, along with an upsurge in welfare concerns and prosecutions. Welfare charities have limited scope to act, they are full to bursting and reliant on donations to fund their work. We need to remember they are not state funded. So donate, be it time, money, fund raise and join campaigns for change. Councils and police have very little funds and resources to tackle the matter either. Its collective pressure that may influence change, sadly lots of horses will suffer before this happens. Solutions are being collectively explored and pressure is being applied to get this on the political radar. One aspect to the proposed solutions is accountability of ownership.
We must celebrate and showcase excellent horse ownership. We must be proactive. We all have a voice, so promote good practice. I for one give up a lot of my time, expertise and resources to make available horsemanship resources for FREE. I feel the time is now to take on board the issue of horse ownership / guardianship and celebrate all good practice in all its’ rich and diverse forms. This is for the greater good of all equine welfare. We must not shy away from this challenge because we are uncomfortable with the word ownership. Now is the opportunity to shape what is great horse ownership. This modern world is a harsh place for horses without good guardianship and protection. Many suffer. We are not just the guardians of our own horses we have the potential within ourselves to share what is good practice, promote it and celebrate it. When was the last time you shared a bit of good practice or knowledge with others? My one voice alone will not impact the bigger picture. It may help individuals on their journey with their horse. The more individuals who then pass on good practice the wider the message is heard and felt. The ripple effect is amazing. It is the power of the collective, if we collectively raise the bar for equines it filters out far and wide. Let us collectively be the voice for change. If you have insights, expertise, knowledge, experience share as widely and as freely as you can. Promote what you love and the good practice out there and resist the urge to bash what you hate.