For many of us, it is a trying time and, with more and more countries implementing a lock-down, a complicated one. Equestrian centres are closed and, in many cases, even owners are being turned away from visiting their horses. A time to reflect on the welfare of the incarcerated horse…
A great many owners consider keeping their horses stabled —incarcerated— as being normal; but now it is the owners themselves that are incarcerated in their own homes. However, they are lucky; they still have some space to move in, unlike the horse, cramped up in what amounts to a telephone box. The owners have the luxury of a separate toilet, unlike the horse, standing —involuntarily— in his own excrement for much of the time. The owners can still eat when they want —and feel the need— to; the horse, with a digestive system adapted to much more frequent replenishment, 12 to 16 ‘meals’ in every 24 hours, is often restricted to just two ‘meals’ a day – and then very often food completely unsuitable for his digestive system.
Clearly there is little that can be done at the moment for those horses suffering such incarceration; hopefully, when this period of crisis is passed, owners will reflect on the misery they inflict on their horses simply through their ignorance. Owners in general consider that they are doing the best for their animals but all too often, their best is little better than a purgatory since the owners perceptions are based upon human needs and desires and not on those of their animals.
Remember that if you are under lock-down and your horses are not being tended to by an equestrian centre or similar, you are still responsible for their welfare. That means you have derogation to tend to your animals’ welfare provided you respect all other regulations in force. Horses (and other domestic animals such as cats, dogs, rabbits, rodents etc.) are not vectors for the COVID-19 coronavirus.