You clearly want to do your best
You are reading this piece, so you clearly want to do the best for the animals in your care. But how do you know what is in their best interests? Did you read it somewhere? did you find your knowledge via a professional, an expert? Where did those professionals and experts find their information and those that came before them? Are you sure you’re not confusing animal welfare with human welfare? Could it actually be a case of animal welfare vs human welfare?
Let’s imagine we’ve never before seen, for example, a horse. All of a sudden the horse appears from nowhere – he is to all intents and purposes an alien. We know nothing about this alien:
What is it?
How does it see? Does it breathe? Does it eat? What does it eat? How does it eat? Is it a threat? Is it poisonous? Can it communicate? How does it communicate? Will it survive on our planet, and in our personal environment? Does it have its own language? Are we capable of learning and understanding that language so that we can learn more about this alien?
Our own survival instinct kicks in; we tread very carefully while physically examining and testing the alien.
We then begin a process of bringing the alien under control because we are human; we are elite beings. The welfare of the alien might at this point be the last thing on our minds; our own welfare would be a priority.
Our natural ability to nurture kicks in
So, we’ve decided that the alien is not a threat; it is, in fact, quite a pushover. We have also become rather attached to this being. During this time, we’ve noticed that the alien likes to eat grass and interact with us. Our natural ability to nurture kicks in; we feel the need to protect it at all costs. We actually have strong feelings for this alien which we’ve decided to call a horse.
We can manipulate
We very quickly notice the physical strength and speed, and how we can manipulate both for our benefit, while having a strong regard for our own personal safety and welfare.
We haven’t learned how the horse communicates; in fact, we haven’t given it much thought because we’ve learned to manage our handling and care of him without his input. His little nuances – such as lifting his back leg, and flattening his ears need nothing more than a reprimand from the handler. He’s a quick learner!
Supplied with a 12 x 12 stable
However, our emotional attachment to the horse also offers awareness to the consideration of his welfare.
We’ve learned that the horse almost constantly picks at the grass, and wanders throughout the day to all corners of the field that is surrounded by the fence that keeps him safe. Winter is here; we must preserve the field for spring, and to keep up with the safety and welfare of the horse we have supplied him with a snug 12×12 stable where he will have three feeds a day, and a hanging hay net. If the weather permits he can go in the menage to let off a bit of steam. He will get some exercise when we’re out for our daily hack.
His coat is so thick
Ugh, the horse gets full of mud in the winter and his coat is so thick he sweats so we clip him – anything from an underbelly clip to a full clip depending on our equestrian winter agenda. Big sigh – ahh yes, that makes things much easier for us and it’s great for the horse because he won’t unduly sweat – not even with the top-notch rug he now ‘proudly wears!
It’s time for change
It’s time for change; it’s time to turn our attention to what is actually in the highest interests of the horse, focusing on who the horse is as a sentient bio-energetic being, and not on our perception of what constitutes equine welfare.
Where do you stand on your perception, bearing in mind your answer will be given according to your current knowledge surrounding the aspects of the horse that go far deeper than the physical animal you see before you?
We are the aliens
Horses, along with other species of animals in our care make often futile attempts to communicate with us; they want to show us how to be better humans. You and me – we are the aliens, the non-humans we care for see right through us. Most humans don’t know who we are; they don’t understand that we are far more than the person we see in the mirror. If we can’t understand that, how can we ever understand the non-humans in our care and offer the utmost welfare considerations? So for now, many humans will continue to provide ‘human welfare’ considerations leaving the horse vulnerable to inadvertent wrongly placed human interaction.