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Horse Welfare


For a long time, it didn’t occur to me that horses had friends.  I would notice my horse was often standing near another particular horse when I’d fetch him for a ride and I’d notice they’d often whinny to each other as we walked off. But, my play with my horse was never on his terms. I never lingered in his pasture or played with his friends. I was very me-centric. 


It is with great pleasure that we announce our official sponsorship of the 13th annual International Society for Equitation Science Conference, hosted by Charles Sturt University, to be held on 22-25 November, 2017, in Wagga Wagga, New South Wales. The International Society of Equitation Science (ISES) is a not-for-profit organisation that facilitates research into the training and management of horses to enhance horse welfare and improve horse-human relationships.


Horses today live longer, healthier lives than ever before. We selectively breed horses to jump higher, run raster, move more flamboyantly... But the question many horse lovers would like to know the answer to is this: Are they happy? Are the domesticated lives we provide our horses fulfilling? How do we know what great quality of life means to the horse, and how can we measure it and, of course, could we do better?


Breeding a foal is a decision that requires careful planning and should never be taken lightly. The first question to seriously consider is: Why do you want to breed a foal?  Unfortunately, even with the best intentions and hopes, many breeders worldwide are simply contributing to the horse overpopluation reflected by the large number of horses that are ‘unwanted’ or considered ‘wastage’ of the various horse industries. 


It may be hard to spend 10 minutes with most horse experts without coming upon the claim “horses need leadership.” This claim is one of many notions about horses that are widely accepted, but simply wrong. The claim is a widespread belief not grounded in observation. Researchers who have spent hundreds of hours studying horses in free-range settings conclude no horse in a herd is better than the others in driving group movements or recruiting mates.  


We all want to understand the things we love. As horse people, we do this by spending time with horses, talking with other horse people, attending clinics, browsing websites and reading books. And, somewhere along the way, we begin to organise all of the information. But, what if the information is not guided by facts? What if all we believe about horses is not actually true? How can we avoid being influenced by others and influencing others in return? How can we identify what’s true and what’s simply hearsay? How can we find the truth within the dogma?  


Here is some advice for fitting, using and maintaining your saddle, compiled by the Animal Health Trust, in collaboration with World Horse Welfare.  Their research has highlighted some areas that should be carefully considered when fitting a new saddle, which will help to maintain and develop the horse’s topline, and reduce the likelihood of back pain. It is also important to remember to maintain your saddle properly, and to make sure it fits both yourself and your horse throughout the year.


This exclusive series of articles on Horse Facility (re)Design prompts you to (re)consider and (re)evaluate the status quo when it comes to stables, shelters and other equine facilities.  In the first two parts of this exclusive series (March and April issues), we explained the built environment is at odds with the horses’ evolved physiology and behaviour, and we provided a historical account of horse facility design. 


Although studies suggest that inhaling certain scents may reduce stress in humans, aromatherapy is relatively unexplored in veterinary medicine. But, new research presented at the American Physiological Society (APS) annual meeting at Experimental Biology 2017 in Chicago, United States, raises the question of whether aromatherapy may be beneficial to horses as well.


Ron Bates is the man behind some of the equestrian industry’s leading innovations - the CAIR® Cushion System and EASY-CHANGE® Fit Solution. We catch up with Ron on the evolution of saddle design and what’s behind the success of Bates Saddles. The art of saddle making - tradition versus innovation?


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