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What is Equiliberta?
The name originated out of concern for equines and human-horse relationships around the year of 2015 without prior knowledge of the Natural Horse Care. EquiLiberta advocates for ethical treatment of domesticated horses and is concerned with all aspects of their life in domestication: horse-man-ship, boarding conditions, diet, and the hoof care. Over the years concept of equiliberta grew in understanding and awareness of the equine species, as it is seen through the lens of the Natural World. Inspired by works of Jaime Jackson, EquiLiberta now offers range of services based on the Four Pillars of Natural Horse Care. Equine community has benefited greatly from the revolutionary concepts Jackson has shared in his books over the past three decades. He continues to influence and inspire individuals like myself to strive for humane treatment of all horses including those remaining wild and free. The insights from The Natural Horse: Lessons From The Wild form the foundation to what Jaime Jackson has coined as the Natural Horse Care. You can read more about Jaime HERE. If you want to read a bit more about my story follow me HERE.
“…the wild horse, healthy, prolific, and fully capable of surviving on their own, provides us with the perfect window through which to inquire, observe and learn about nature’s grand plan for the quintessential natural horse.”
~ J. Jackson (The Natural Horse: Lessons From the Wild)
Wild Horse Model
The term wilderness is nested in the realm of the natural world; it infers that this world remains free and independent of human influence. Both words wild and natural have a common descent, and can be used interchangeably. What is considered wild, can also be natural, however only if the environment has not been rearranged in some way by a human hand. The Natural world follows perfect order, where everything is completely organised beyond perception of the human mind. On the other hand, an idea of wilderness, of being uncontrollable, or unmanageable is often met with fear. Both words point to a living system of complex, interdependent relationships. The state of balance and vitality depends on different forces acting upon the environment. In the context of the U.S. Great Basin Wild Horse Model, the word Natural refers to the state of wilderness, meaning that the human activity did not interfere in any way with the lives of the wild free-roaming horses, nor their habitat. The Wild Horse Model provides a framework for Natural Horse Care. This framework is paramount to horses living in domestication. Domesticated horses are riddled with pathology, and horse care practices are far from mimicking the natural habitat of the equine specie. Guidelines based on Natural Horse Care, designed by Jaime Jackson point to practices that aim at naturalising environment of domestic horses. These guidelines are found in the Four Pillars of Natural Horse Care, are evidence based, and have preventative value.
BUT WHY WILD HORSES AS A MODEL?
Wild horses through evolutionary forces have adapted to a specific environment. This adaptation took place 1.7 million years ago. Wild horses evolution shows that the modern horse equus ferus caballus in its genetic expression is identical to it’s cousin equus ferus ferus (source: Jackson J. (1992), The Natural Horse: Lessons from the Wild 2020, J. Jackson Publishing). Adaptation constitutes an important aspect when it comes to equine health and vitality. According to J. Jackson, the adaptive environment of wild horse populations is one of high semi-desert with bunch grasses and variety of plant life, vast open space, rocky terrain, hills and mountains. Not all wild horse populations inhabit an environment suited to the species genetic expression. For this reason, not all wild horse populations make a good representation of what nature intended for the equine species. Horses living in domestication are deprived by far the kind of environment and lifestyle of wild, free-roaming horses in the U.S Great Basin. These wild horses provide abundance of information on their social structure, locomotion, their diet, hooves and so much more. Horse centred horsemanship practices have innumerable benefits to horses living in domestication. From natural boarding conditions (Paddock Paradise) to hoof work and diet.
“Nature should not say one thing, and science another.”
“Unnatural lifestyles create unnaturally shaped hooves, no matter how precise the natural trim”
~ J. Jackson
Natural Horse Care
The concept of Natural Horse Care (NHC) evolved gradually out of research and study of the wild, free-roaming horses of the U.S. Great Basin conducted by J. Jackson in 1982 – 86. Jackson’s concern around the subject of what constitutes naturally shaped hooves eventually led him to visit the wild horse country, study equine hooves, locomotion, and invariably their lifestyle. NHC presents truly holistic approach to horse keeping, based on the adaptation of the equine species.
Natural Horse Care as a template presents holistic, revolutionary approach to equine management practices. This approach takes care of pathology through prevention, by creating habitat that resembles one of the U.S. Great Basin. Traditional horse management practices are often focused around human convenience and do not cater for physical and psychological needs of the equine species. NHC approach speaks to the adaptation of the animal in human care. Natural horse boarding known as Paddock Paradise is the most tangible and noticeable Pillar of NHC. It receives much attention for its practical application, it can be described as the outer shell of the other three Pillars, that are inseparable, and encapsulated within it. The Reasonably Natural Diet presents findings from research conducted at AANHCP Headquarters, Lompoc USA; in search for safe diet guidelines. Natural Horsemanship speaks to the relationship between the horse and human, equestrian practices, pursuits and their effects upon the hooves. Natural Hoof Care refers to the application of the Natural Trim inclusive of the other three Pillars of Natural Horse Care for its effectiveness.
Natural Horse Care as a holistic care for horses is very relevant in the current climate of horse welfare practices. NHC presents a consistent model that addresses issues of housing, management, and equine health. It can be argued that the closer we mimic horses adaptive environment, the greater the general health and smaller the risk of emergency vet care. Creating environment suited to the adaptation of the horse will require time, effort and money. However creating Natural boarding facility also creates a new niche in the market, new job opportunities, and business models; it is financially more sustainable if one considers treatment-free life. Domestication of equines has created a relationship of uncompromising dependency, the burden of equine husbandry always weights upon the horse owner. Advocating for a reform of land in equestrian use is most viable path in pursuit of equine health and vitality. Livery yard owners have a great potential of creating facilities that cater for all the equine needs: provide 24/7 turnout (especially beneficial for heavy breeds), greater control over nutrition, laminitis rehabilitation and prevention, greater movement (horse is always ‘ready’ for work), socialisation, enrichment, better land management, and much, much more. The successful transition to the Natural Horse Boarding depends on availability of resources, regulations and geographic location. More so, it is dependant upon awareness of general public and willingness to open up to new information.
Four Pillars of Natural Horse Care
Wild horses of U.S Great Basin used as a model provide great educational value that is applicable to all domestic equines. Jaime shares the practical application of the Wild Horse Model through the Four Pillars of Natural Horse Care. The Pillars take care of all aspects of horse life.
The Natural Trim mimics the wear patterns of wild horses hooves, described in more detail HERE
Reasonably Natural Diet sets out general guidelines of what is considered safe and how we can do our best without creating laminitis traps, read more about it HERE
Natural Horse Boarding is the Paddock Paradise set up that imitates more appropriate habitat to equine species, more information on Paddock Paradise HERE
Natural Horsemanship is concerned with Natural locomotion of horses in their adaptive environment, dangers of riding crooked horses, and how to solve it, you will find more about it HERE