Strides to Sustainability | Eco Guide for Horse Owners

As I watched the TV in October '21, the spotlight shone on Glasgow. With conservation and the environment being another lifelong passion of mine, it wouldn't feel right not to bring attention to the immediate challenge that affects us all - CLIMATE CHANGE. (Yes, you may eye-roll, but please humour me and keep reading!)

October saw Glasgow host COP26, the Conference Of Parties, where the United Nations meet to hear the latest scientific advice and discuss how to tackle our changing climate. This will mark the 26th iteration over the past three decades, and as I am sure all of us have caught some media snippets at the time of the event, we are all somewhat aware of its happenings, but how many of us paid attention? Can you tell me one agreement reached at the conclusion of the meet?

When faced with something as daunting as climate change, it is easy for us to feel overwhelmed and scared, finding it easier for our own peace of mind to turn a blind eye than give it our focus because we feel uncomfortable. We no longer have that luxury.

We have experienced a worldwide pandemic potentially caused by a zoonotic disease from human encroachment into wild habitats. We have seen record temperatures of 48°c in Europe and nearly 50°c in Canada. Bushfires have swept across Australia, Western America and Europe. Southern Madagascar is now experiencing a world-first famine caused by climate change after no rain in 4 years. If we don't act now, we are currently on track for a 2.7°c rise in global temperature by 2050.

Climate change will result in accelerated global heating, resulting in more unpredictable weather conditions causing extreme droughts, storms endangering life and torrential flooding. Sea levels will rise, the soil quality will continue to decline, and entire ecosystems will be lost. We are entering a phase of, potentially, one of the  most significant mass extinctions for millions of years, all caused by human activity on this planet. 


How does it affect us equestrians?

If you are reading this with the same response as my girlfriend had, asking the question "what's that got to do with horses?" when she sat down to read this, then today is going to be an exceptional educational day! 

Everything we do has a positive or negative impact on this planet. As horse owners, trainers and riders, we have all seen an unprecedented disruption in this year's weather in the UK alone; the seasons are no longer predictable, pasture grazing has been lusher, and the weather is more interchangeable. How we keep our horses has restrictions to their natural ethology. We depend on the seasons to budget for feed, to gauge exercise routines, to be able to safely conduct exercise routines and for weight management. This year has resulted in the highest cases of illnesses, such as laminitis, I have ever seen, and increased price hikes in hay and feed. A changing climate increases costs and a decline in our horse's health. 

No one person, plant or animal is exempt or unaffected from the effects of climate change - to think so, is ignorance, but with the weight of the world seemingly now placed on your shoulders, the easiest thing to do is turn the opposite way in the hope that someone else fixes the situation. After all, what can one person do? One person can cause a change that spreads and inspires; just look how one person's influence can change your whole perspective in working with your horse! The basics of physics apply - if you spread a load over a wide surface, that load is then shared; we can all bear this weight, and we can all play our part.


What can we do?

It can be easy to feel hopeless with this being the 26th time leaders have met, and we are not much further along. It isn't straightforward, and there is much to work out. The 124 individuals of the UN attending the summit may be deciding our future, but remember, we have the final say as a collective; a business will only provide what the consumer buys. When the buying stops, the demand declines, and things change!

When faced with problems on a worldwide scale, such as poverty, poaching, deforestation, and as daunting as climate change, it is easy for us to feel overfaced and scared. It may be easier for our own peace of mind to turn a blind eye than give it our focus, because we feel uncomfortable. We no longer have that luxury.

Everyone's situation is different, and changes can't always be made immediately. So, how about we plan for the long term? We can begin to make small changes in the immediate future while working towards more significant changes later down the line. So, how can we transition towards a greener planet and a sustainable yard, specifically as equestrians?

Be more mindful of the companies we choose to purchase products from, what their environmental impact is and the carbon footprint they leave.

Be selective of the forage you give your horse, that it has not been treated with chemical pesticides that kill insects, pollinators and impact your horse's digestive health.


  • Look for biodegradable or recyclable packaging on bales, feed bags and grooming products.
  • Group book veterinary checks, farriery visits, lift-share to the yard, or competitions to cut down exhaust fumes. If you can walk to the yard or hack to the showground, then do so!
  • Use solar panels to charge fence batteries.
  • Plant more plants! Plant trees and create natural boundaries by planting hedgerows for wildlife and adding herbal plants to your horse's paddock, which will create enrichment, health benefits, and pollinators such as bees and butterflies!


We don't have the luxury to bury our heads in the sand any longer. Change to our climate is happening now! Now is the time to look in the mirror and stare change in the face.