Respect and understanding
Focus on the welfare and protection of horses is steadily growing
The horse is no longer considered a working animal or a packhorse, it is essentially a sports animal, an athlete, both to practise competitive disciplines and for simple walks. Rearing of sport horses has evolved greatly with the aim of obtaining horses that are increasingly athletic and high-performing. Fortunately, however, many of us today consider them as pets and we allow them to live according to nature, enjoying their company. Similarly associations that defend horses and that fight for their rights are also increasing in number. The focus on welfare and the protection of sport horses is growing; the public that attends events is aware and informed and reacts to acts of coercion and violence. Regulations and controls on horses are now tighter. Unfortunately, there is still a great distance between theory and practice. Respect for the basic needs of animals is too often in conflict with the financial interests of humans.
Haste, ambition, arrogance and a lack of culture often lead humans/riders and trainers to impose physical and psychological pain on horses. The animal, in order to be able to live well, must be normally able to meet its basic needs. The more its natural living conditions are fulfilled, the better the relationship that the horse can establish with humans, without undesirable behaviours. The system in which we keep our horses must take into account all the key aspects of its nature: freedom of movement, socialisation, comfort, food, care and attention to its needs, progressive and informed training. But material needs are not enough if they are not supported by a relationship based on respect and understanding.
Horses are herd animals that prefer the company of their fellow family members. In the wild they live many years in a stable family consisting of approximately twenty members including a stallion, a dominant mare, the older mares and their descendants. At the age of two or three years the young stallions and approximately three-quarters of the young females leave the family. Stallions, young and old, gather to form, for a relatively short period, groups of 'singles' numbering approximately twenty. The formation of groups of young males and females is, however, not uncommon. Then new families are formed. The situation of solitary horses is rare, more often this may be the case with stallions but their survival in the wild could then be problematic.