2020 has been a challenge for the world, awful, devastating and unsettling but it has made us appreciate so much more. When the world went into ‘lockdown’ nature rebuilt, with pollution levels dropping and rivers become clearer, animals reclaimed the land and humans began to reconnect with nature. Living in the countryside and being a horse owner, we spend a lot of time outside exploring on foot and horseback. Yet, despite growing up in this environment I began to appreciate all of the little things like wildflowers, new shoots of trees in woodlands germinated from a fallen leaf, watching the sunrise and listening to morning birdsong.
And I started listening, thinking and researching about the world, the problems our natural habitat face and considering what changes I can make to slow down the impact of climate change as an individual and a horse owner.
Here are a few of the changes I’ve made to my personal life and equestrian habits…
Switching to natural horse care products– I had many long conversations with Catherine at See Change Now and she kindly sent me her shampoo bar to try on our goats who were having skin problems. I now use this on all of our horses, (goats) and dogs; the product is amazing and natural but it also has no plastic packaging in any part of the process, it last so much longer than shampoo bottles meaning its cost effective too.
I wanted to find a tack cleaner that covers the same ethos and will have something in the pipeline to share about this soon. I searched online and found the Mother Bee products which are made sustainably with natural ingredients. I ordered and haven’t been disappointed with the quality of the product, the containers are fully recyclable and its brilliant to be able to support a small business.
At home, why not consider having good old-fashioned hand soap in a bar, is it really necessary to have plastic pumping soap?
Buy products to last not just because they are in fashion– this goes for tack, clothing, products, anything. We should be able to make informed choices about whether we really need another rug or pair of riding tights and the brand values behind companies. Do your research, how is it made? What’s the quality like? Ask for other people’s feedback, sometimes it’s worth spending a little bit more on quality items that will last. We have Thermatex’s on the yard that are 30 years old, a noseband from mums first pony (1960’s!) and puffa jackets I’ve had for 15 years, still going strong. If your horses rug breaks, get it fixed or if you need to buy a new one, buy second hand. There’s so much available now on Facebook marketplace and eBay, you’ll find some real bargains; if you really need to buy new have a look at Derby House and Weatherbeeta who’ve made rugs from recycled plastic bottles! If you’re looking for clothes for yourself, again try second hand, you find some great bargains like this and in charity shops.
Utilise the elements– I’m sure it is always raining in Cornwall! We have 3 big water butts collecting rainwater from our barn which we use to fill up water containers for the field. Once installed, its free water- if you’ve ever ran a yard, you’ll know just how much a yard water bill is.
Planting wild seeds– after the loss of one of my horses this year, I wanted to do something nice to remember her by and planted a memorial garden in one of our fields, spreading wildflower seeds and planting a couple of trees.
Reusable cups– they really are a very effective way to reduce waste and there’s a lot of fun designs out there. On show days we take hot water in our chilly bottle to make coffee and if I’m out and about for work or country walks, I’ll always take a chilly bottle of cold water.
Consider what you eat – no one’s saying you have to ‘go vegan’ but by reducing the amount of meat in your diet, it will make an impact. And by supporting local companies, we’re reducing our carbon footprint.
There are many other things we can switch in our lives, the above are some of the changes I have made that are very easy to do. It’s not about trying to live a wholly sustainable lifestyle; great if you can but that’s not always feasible. If we can all just make a few small changes to the way we live, it will contribute towards our future, our children’s future, our planet.
Regional Reporter - South West England
I’m Alice and I’m an amateur event rider living in Cornwall. I work in marketing for a travel company and run an equestrian yard (Glenview Farm) at home with my mum. I’m a bit of a wonderer and enjoy exploring the countryside either on horseback or with my Jack Russell, Isla. There’s been times I’ve struggled with my mental health but having a focus and commitment to our animals has helped me. I’ve always found writing a form of therapy and thought it was about time I put it to good use.