• Christine Keate

The art of observation

Chris Keate

Even after nearly 20 years of editing, there are some pieces that really stick in the mind. One such piece was a contribution a number of years ago, from Brooke, the charity supporting working horses and donkeys. It talked about how the charity supports families in the poorest areas of the world, whose working animals bear the brunt of a punishing workload that would otherwise, be carried out by the women and children. It made me realise that we all need to take time to assess how well we are actually meeting our own horse’s needs.

One of the group exercises ‘If I were a horse’, helped the owners imagine what they would need in order to be a happy, healthy horse, mule or donkey. These needs included both mental and physical aspects; the ability to graze as much as possible, freedom from fear/anxiety, the opportunity to socialise with other horses, good food, prompt veterinary attention.

The owners were encouraged to score their present practice in supplying these needs and, to observe the physical and behavioural signs that might indicate they were not being met. The group then visited each horse to discuss what could be done to improve the animal’s well-being.

Repeating these observations on a regular basis helped the individual owners become better at understanding good and poor welfare and, what aspects of their own animals’ lives could be improved.

Food for thought!

Have a great weekend

Your editor



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