Time for a change
For a long while, we have been on the edge about offering rides with our horses. We already decided earlier this season that all the rides out would be done in walk only and now the natural development is to stop offering rides all together.
Our decision has a few different reasons, all of them relating to our horses and their wellbeing. ( Side question; does anything in horse owners life ever NOT relate to horses?)
As you may be aware, all our horses have rather tragic history and background. They have suffered huge workloads and less than ideal living conditions for many years. Some of them carry with them the memories in forms of scars and deformations in their body, not to mention the mental load and stress from the past.
Regardless of their bad past, they have all opened themselves to us, learned to trust and enjoy life again. Through the past years we have been together, they have become family members to us. We trust them and they trust us. The bond Daniel and I have with the herd is really rather indescribable.
When it comes to the question that will we allow strangers to climb on them and potentially subject them to discomfort, the obvious answer is of course not. We were already very strict with our weight limits and also the structure of the riding experiences, we did not want people turning up in here for “express rides”. We always demanded that people spend at least half a day here with the horses, even if the ride was only an hour. It is important to both the horse and the rider to get to know each other before the ride.
Carrying a person is not something that comes naturally to a horse. Even on flat ground it is a physically challenging task for them to maintain their balance with a rider on top. Good riders know how to help the horse, but most “holiday riders” are first timers and won’t have such experience yet.
Lack of riding experience also means that the aids that riders give to horses are often unrefined and harsh, although given with the absolute best intentions. What we have come to learn, is that even experienced riders with real compassion for the horse are few and far in between. This is very largely a cultural problem in the horse industry, we are taught to think as the horse as a machine and not as a sentient being.
Here at Country Quest, we demand our horses to be treated with the utmost compassion at all times. They should be recognised as souls with feelings, fears and opinions. They deserve nothing less!
We have chosen to make this decision and quit offering rides all together. This way we won’t end up in awkward situations having to stop rides halfway through or turning people away at the door because they are too heavy for our horses and our horses won’t have to do things that could be potentially uncomfortable for them.
In a business sense, this is somewhat of an unusual decision for a horse business to make, but someone has got to be the first one.
From hereon in, we continue offering what we love offering the most; walks with horses, mindfulness meditation with horses, accommodation packages and science based horse training courses. The only people who get to ride our horses are little people, we will still continue offering lead rein rides for small children as a family activity. We also operate as a workshop venue and host courses that fit within our ethos in the hopes to educate even more people about the beauty of the horse as an animal.
To celebrate our decision to become a non ridden horse business, we have launched a special offer to the members of the Non Ridden Equine Association. Find it on FB!