Many equestrian brands and products are now greener than ever before. But what can individual riders and owners do to contribute to a more positive future for our environment? H&H investigates...
HORSE owners have been reminded of the role they play in making positive choices for the environment.
As more equestrian companies take steps to reduce their carbon footprint, it has been agreed that owners also play a big part in doing their bit to be more sustainable.
World Horse Welfare chief executive Roly Owers told H&H we live in a world that is “closely interconnected”, as highlighted through the concepts of “one health” and “one welfare”, in which we consider as a whole the health of people, the environment and animals.
“When considering such wide issues it’s understandable to ask what we, as horse owners, can do. In reality, there is plenty,” he said.
“We need to recognise that we are stewards of the environment, for example through how we manage where our horses graze and how we worm them. The stark reality with climate change means it becomes ever more important for us to look at the bigger picture in terms of what our role is, what we should feel obliged to do and what society expects us to do.”
Mr Owers said a key challenge is that most owners have one or two equines, so it is a much more fragmented sector compared for example to farming. He added this is why the equestrian community should do what it can to support the sustainable future of our sector.
Vet Madi Hewitson, who is conducting research on the impact of pet ownership on the planet, told H&H horse owners have a “ginormous” amount of power to change outcomes for the planet. She recommends tips such as planting trees and hedgerows to support biodiversity, sourcing locally produced feed free from pesticides, and considering whether a horse really needs a new rug.
“Everything we purchase has an impact on the planet. Thinking about what materials things are made of, and what happens to them after you have finished with them, is increasingly important,” she said.
“Polyester in rugs will outlive your children’s children. Swapping to recycled plastics, biodegradable or compostable materials can make a huge difference. Buying secondhand and donating used tack is very effective at prolonging the life of these products and will help to reduce the impact of equid ownership on the planet.”
Event rider Diana Compson, who runs POP Equine selling sustainable and organic products including hoof oil and shampoos, told H&H the equestrian community can make a difference to the environment. The company offers a discount for returning scrap paper which is then used in packaging, and donates a percentage of profits to TreeSisters, a charity that focuses on tropical reforestation.
“If you love horses you probably love being outdoors and appreciate nature, so it’s incredibly relevant,” she said.
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