One of the questions we get asked most often is why don’t the horses live in a field with grass?
And the answer is that horses actually aren’t really designed to eat the rich, high sugar grass that most fields have. They were designed to be moving and eating lower quality forage for the majority of the time. Despite this, lots of horses do well in grass fields, but quite a few don’t, and they can have serious health problems from a grass diet.
The horses at Graveney Equine live together on a long winding track, with access to hay at all times in different ways and places to encourage them to move more like they would have done in the wild. Groups of feral horses have been found to move up to 100 miles per day! They also have shrubs, bushes and trees alongside the track to browse and nibble from. In the winter at times when the grass is safer (less sugar) the horses that are able to do so graze on the grass in the centre of the track.
Horses are hugely social animals (in the wild their survival would have depended on it), and living together in a settled group helps them feel safe and secure. Here you can see the herd choosing to be together resting in the bark pen which acts as a comfy outdoor bed; some of them are deeply asleep, whilst other members of the herd are keeping an eye out to make sure things feel safe. They can leave this area at any time, but often choose to spend time together.
They don’t go inside stables at night to allow them to move freely throughout the day and night, but they do have a large barn they can choose to go in and out of as they wish, and have a comfy bedding area inside.
They also have a large sandpit, gravel pit and bark pit, which allows for lots of natural behaviours like rolling and self-grooming (but very often they use these for a snooze outside). There is also a pond that they can choose to go in and out of (and is one of the favourite playing spots!) The horses get to choose where they would like to be and when.
One of our core therapeutic values at Beyond the Clinic Room is around giving choice and control - this is just as important for our horses too. Our approach to equine care and welfare supports our horses to have their physical and emotional needs being met, which is vital for our horses to feel able to develop safe and genuine relationships with our clients.
If you would like to hear more about our approach to trauma informed, equine assisted therapy from a qualified and regulated Clinical Psychologist, do get in touch on firstname.lastname@example.org. We are based in the countryside in the outskirts of Faversham, (close by to Whitstable and Canterbury) Kent.