A horsewoman from the UK is working to improve the welfare of horses on Tenerife after launching the island’s only registered equine rescue.
Once lockdown restrictions are lifted, Emma Greenfield is hoping Tenerife Horse Rescue will be part-funded by tourists who can stay in a yurt or cave house at the property, with proceeds channelled straight back to the horses’ welfare.
The 30-year-old, who has a background in equine business management, previously worked at the Remus Horse Rescue in Essex and is also a registered barefoot trimmer.
She is hoping to bring a more ethical approach to the treatment of horses on the island, where they are often kept in inadequate stabling and ridden in poorly fitting tack.
“I am not here to judge people, it’s the way island life is — some people love their horses and think they are doing the right thing but there is a lot of ignorance,” she said.
“I have seen horses with their shoes on backwards, a lot are kept in small stables, fed buckets of oats and then ridden once a week. They do a lot of racing with horses along the roads here at night when there are fewer cars — the horses are ridden from as young as one and kicked as hard as people can to go and then pulled as hard as they can to stop.”
Emma said the horses taken in by the rescue are retrained using “positive reinforcement methods” and an “understanding of equine body language and communication” — something which “seems like witchcraft” to the old-fashioned natives.
Emma also supports the horses at the rescue with a sharing scheme, where those who can be ridden have sharer swho help pay for their maintenance. There is no grass on the island and forage is expensive; a large bale of hay that would cost £30 in the UK costs upwards of €100 (£87).
She has also had to adapt her expectations of the way horses are kept. Although the acre-per-horse of grass standard in the UK does not exist in Tenerife, nor do some of the familiar health conditions.
“I haven’t had a colic case and we don’t get laminitis here,” she said. “We don’t have grazing but the horses have more space here than anywhere else in Tenerife. Even on the high-end yards, the horses aren’t kept in company, whereas we have them turned out in mini-herds of three to five. It’s not what I am used to but it is heaven for them.”
The project was set up a year and a half ago and the facilities have been built with the help of Workaways — a website that connects people with working holiday opportunities.
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“They pay to come, we feed them and provide accommodation and they work 25 hours a week in exchange,” said Emma, who is in lockdown at the site with 14 others who have been working there.
The tourist accommodation is nearly finished and Emma, who set up the rescue with her Italian partner, is hoping to buy more land to provide a retirement paddock as well as a track system in future.
“It’s a big community here and hopefully by the time lockdown is finished we will be ready for people to come and stay,” she said.
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