From The Editor
Natural Challenges, Responsibility, and Ethics
We've received a lot of calls about West Nile 'Virus' and, as promised, here is an issue full of information about it, as well as a lot of other important articles. Thank you all for letting us know what you want to read about in Natural Horse. There is no 'one right way' and we strive to offer alternative information so you can make informed choices.
Being of the mindset that natural challenges build strength and immunity, I personally don't understand why anyone would want to 'protect' against all natural challenges. For instance, if a vaccine is known to have side effects - both immediate and long-lasting, including death - where is the sense in using it? I prefer to AVOID using potentially harmful methods, and instead take my chances with the natural challenges. Among these natural challenges, naturally, are potentially life-threatening ones, so it only makes sense to be prepared for them at all times, using methods that support overall health and immunity, such as a healthy, natural lifestyle and maintenance program that includes complementary therapies.
It is we who domesticated the horse so it is our responsibility to be his caretakers. This does not mean that we take care of him the way that WE want to be taken care of, however. (Just look in any 'horsey stuff' catalogs just how much we try to do that, and it is not in the best interests of the horse.) We do this for our own needs, pleasures, misconceptions, and entertainment. The horse may get used to the false lifestyle that we have imposed upon him, but I believe every horse would revert back to existing much more harmoniously and healthfully in a more natural lifestyle, if given the chance. We can have the best of both worlds, and so can our horses. It really isn't all that complicated, and if we look to Mother Nature, we will find a lot of answers. It is our responsibility.
Another responsibility we have when we are caretakers/
owners of horses is to be sure they each have a place in our lives
when we accept them or breed them as 'ours'. Having multiple horses
means more time and effort from us, and is much more natural and
satisfying for them, yet a comfortable number is best for all involved.
Breeders of multiple competition horses typically overbreed so they
can select the best from the foal crop, not because they want each
horse to have a place in their lives. This creates homeless horses
when the surplus is many, the select are few, and the buyers are
either few or unethical. All too often the surplus ends up at auctions
or rescues (either immediately or after a few owners), which all
are usually full.
On top of that, many sport-horse breeders employ nurse mares (another important article in this issue) to get the foals off their prize mares - who are sent back into competition. This creates orphan foals (the nurse mares' foals are discarded). This is unnecessary, unethical and irresponsible.
Also, from the beginning horses need proper handling - such as natural horsemanship - to enable a comfortable and cooperative working relationship between horse and human. Far too often horses are handled by uneducated horse handlers who use fear and force to 'train them to behave', or who do not recognize 'misbehavior' as pain, or who neglect or abuse (another important article in this issue). These subsequently 'unruly' and rejected horses also end up in the rescues and auctions.
With knowledge this can be changed. Horses' lives don't have to be miserable. Their lives can be healthy, happy, and productive, if we learn how to live with Nature and act responsibly. We don't have to be miserable with our horses, either. There is much to learn from natural horsemanship and natural healthcare. If we understand ourselves, our world, and the environment, understand the horse and his world, and care enough to do what's ethical, we will all be better off. As caretakers of the horse, it is our responsibility.