In my professional work with horses, both as a natural hoof care provider and as a riding and horsemanship teacher, I have come to realize, that many horseowners, and other people dealing with horses, do not have a basic knowledge about the natural needs that horses have, and how their psyche works.
Spreading knowledge about the natural needs of horses, and how to train, ride and just be with them in a manner that strengthens the bond between humans and horses, is something that is very dear to me. Horses have been part of my life since I was a child.
We have a small herd of horses living on Masia Fogueres.
The horses fill several purposes on the farm. First of all they are great company and nice companions. They help us mow the grass and their manure is used in the gardens.
The horses will also be participating in retreats and clinics and assist in helping people heal, learn how to communicate with horses, how to ride them in a healthy, harmonious way, and aid people in finding back their inner state of natural peace.
Also one of the important jobs that our horses have, is serving as good examples of healthy, happy, balanced horses living a natural lifestyle, so that people can learn from them, and through knowledge and understanding, help improve the lives of other horses.
The horses on Masia Fogueres live outside all year round. They live on terraces on the mountainside, and we have let them make their own tracks up, down and around the terraces.
Horses do not belong in stalls or other types of small spaced confinement.
Horses are herd animals and extremely social. They need to live with other horses, and to be able to have physical contact with other horses.
Horses are prey animals. They need to have room to move around, and space to run.
Having the possibility for constant movement is very important for horses. As prey animals, their lives depend on their physical health. Their muscles, tendons, ligaments, bones and hooves are kept strong by constant movement.
The horses on Masia Fogueres, are fed dry grass hay all year round. The hay is fed in several feedingstations/haynets spread around in their paddock. They are allowed to graze for a limited time every day. The horses enjoy this very much, and the grass serves as a vitamin supplement. Also we believe that the horses teeth benefit from the horses having to tear of the grass.
Horses are herbivores. They are designed to move over large distances to find forage and water.
They need to eat forage high in fibers for many hours a day. Their digestion system is comprised of a small stomach and very long and large intestinals. Consuming small amounts of fibrous forage, more or less all day and night long, keeps their digestion system healthy.
It is important to note that our horses are living and working in the mountains, which means that they are very fit, and that their systems can deal with a few hours of mountain grass every day. Many horses have problems digesting fresh, green grass, and will develop laminitis. Therefore limiting the horses access to fresh grass, and instead feeding them dry grasshay, is a safe and healthy way to feed horses.
All horses on Masia Fogueres are kept barefoot and trimmed regularly.
Horses need to be kept barefoot in order to have healthy hooves.
Living on a diet high in fibers, low in carbohydrates, moving around almost constantly, living in a fairly dry environment, being kept barefoot and trimmed regularly keeps horses hooves healthy.
Some of our horses wear hoof boots, when ridden over rocky terrain.
All horse communication, training and riding on Masia Fogueres is done in a peaceful and respectful manner.
Our basic philosophy is that the horses did not choose this life with us, we chose it for them, and so it is our responsibility to learn how to communicate with these animals in a way that they understand, and to make sure that everything we do with the horses, is also beneficial to them, and that they enjoy our company as much as we enjoy theirs.
All of our horses are ridden bitless.
Horses are curious, intelligent animals. They need to be stimulated mentally, to thrive.
Giving them a life where they are encouraged to move around after their forage, where they have space to play and run, where they have the ability to find forage and fresh water 24 hours a day, where they can browse for different plants and herbs, where they live in a herd with other horses and where they are not being stressed by unfair demands of humans, keeps them mentally healthy.