At my farm, we have always had this mission statement that the kindest treatment of the horse is gained through knowledge.
It is something we so fervently believe and happily for us, the vast majority of students who come through our doors believe it too.
I remember when I was growing up, I really didn’t have a sense for what cruelty to animals was, particularly as it pertained to horses. I read Black Beauty when I was at a young, impressionable age and I guess I defined cruelty by what I learned in Anna Sewell’s book.
It took me a long time to realize that thankfully for the most part horses, at least in the west, are no longer subjected to that kind of punishment.
And yet over the years, it has become increasingly clear to me that horses are still often mistreated but now it is most likely to be by people who love them but just don’t seem to know any better.
We no longer use horses to transport us and our goods, plow our fields, or carry our armaments and soldiers into warzones.
Now, for the most part, we use horses for recreational purposes.
In a way, that makes the mistreatment of our horses almost more morally reprehensible. There is really no excuse.
An educated rider and handler makes the horse’s life better, and the benefits of understanding the horse can make the sport safer for the rider.
The handling of horses, their care, and how to ride and train them should not be a lost art. If we take on the challenge to ride and care for horses, I think we owe it to the horse to do it as well as possible. By striving for excellence in everything we do, not only do we develop our own character and resilience, I believe we can also make the world a better place for horses in the process. Given all they give to us, I think we owe them that.