We’ve all lost track of time at the yard or in the field with our beloved pony or horse. But as we while away the hours grooming, jumping ditches or trotting over poles, it’s good to think about how, as equestrians, we can help reduce our carbon hoofprints as we trot along.
Although you might not know it, horses are actually good for the environment because they sequester carbon. Carbon sequestration is the process of capturing and storing atmospheric carbon dioxide, which helps reduce global climate change.
Good, tall and biodiverse pasture for horses can store a huge amount of carbon and also encourages a healthy ecosystem too.
Riding ponies and horses comes with a lot of gear however, and not all of it has the same green credentials as the horse itself. But forward-thinking companies are working non-stop to make sure the equestrian world doesn’t get left behind when it comes to becoming more sustainable.
All of us pony-mads can do our bit by making little changes to our horsey habits, which bit-by-bit, can add up to big changes for the whole planet.
How to shop planet-smart for all your essential kitBuy second-hand: check out your local equestrian social media page or group to pick up good-quality second-hand items that are fit for reuse.Donate: help your local horse charities by giving them your old rugs, saddles, bits and bridles for their fundraiser tack sales. Buy local: support your nearest tack shop and feed merchants, as well as local producers, in order to reduce travel and delivery.
How to make the yard more environmentally friendlyCare and share: car share with your friends for the daily yard visits. Compete consciously: invest in eco products – many brands are now creating goods from alternative materials. You can now buy jumps made from bio-resin made from plant sources.Save water: collect rain water to quench your pony’s thirst or install automatic drinkers. If you spot a leaky tap around the yard – tell the yard manager!Swap to save: wood pellet bedding produces less waste than some other bedding and decomposes quickly once on the muck-heap.Buy feed in bulk: this saves on packaging and as a bonus is also often a bit cheaper.Go large: buy lotions, cleaners and products in larger quantities and decant into old plastic bottles as needed, saving on packaging and pocket money.
Horse rugs with a mission
When it comes to your horse’s wardrobe, big-name brands are leading the way with their selection of sustainable gear. Here are a few of the best:
Irish company Horseware has created its Future Collection with the environment in mind. Over 20bn plastic bottles are recycled and turned into rug filler fibre, giving waste a second life. Horseware uses recycled nylon which diverts waste from landfills to make rug yarn and their entire range of eco-friendly rugs use processes which emit fewer greenhouse gases, conserving water and energy in the recycling process.Weatherbeeta’s Green-Tec range saves over 340 plastic bottles per rug from going into landfill or the ocean, and the fabric uses 50% less energy to produce than a traditional turnout rug. Derby House’s eco-friendly Evolution rug is free of poly-fluorinated chemicals and is made from the equivalent of 110 recycled plastic bottles.
Reuse, recycle, reseed!Recycled riding hat hanging basket: When your hat has come to the end of its life, the ventilation holes make it ideal for growing strawberries or flowers and the chin strap means you can hang it anywhere.Feedbag garden: Plastic feed bags make excellent grow bags. You can recycle them and grow pretty much any vegetables, herbs or flowers in them. Find a level surface to sit the bags on so they don’t topple over and get them in as sunny a spot as you can. A few bags together can lend support to each other too. Fold the top edge of the bag down over itself two or three times to help hold the top of the bag open when you fill it with compost.Once the compost is in (fill to a couple of inches below the folded top), you’ll need to make two small X-shaped cuts near the bottom of the bag. These cuts allow for drainage and ensure the bags don’t become waterlogged.Plant one to three plants per bag, depending on the estimated size of the full-grown plant. If you’re planting from pots, gently shake out any pot-bound roots before planting. If you’re planting potatoes, then two seed potatoes nice and deep in the soil will work best.Water your feedbag garden really well and don’t let them dry out on hotter days. Tomatoes (patio or dwarf-type work best) may need a little cane support and feeding. With care and attention, you should be able to produce plenty of carrots for your pony or harvest your five-a day until winter rolls around again. Even then, you can grow winter veg in your feed bags. It’s win-win!
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