Horses nowadays get a rough deal with their care and training.
Centuries of ignorance have blindly convinced us we know better than nature – not only do we shoe horses - we have lost all perception of how and why they thrive in their natural environment.
The difference between a horse kept 'naturally' and one shod and stabled for 12 hours a day is staggering.
It's so sad, because there is very little to stop people giving their horses a 'natural' life.
I find it deeply upsetting – but I'm not a nut or 'natural horse evangelist' (I happily chat with anyone who has a love of horses, however they keep them).
But, I do get folk to dabble with natural techniques. That's all. Nothing but dabble to start with.
And it's when they dabble the magic happens.
The rewards are huge - for the horse and for the rider.
I usually start with diet, as most folk can get their head around the concept of 'we are what we eat', even for horses.
Hay testing is cheap when you consider how much most people spend on feed, and it'll tell you what supplements you should (or more importantly shouldn't) give your horse.
Did you know too much iron undermines copper and zinc absorption, which are both important for a horse's health?
Well, even if you did know that, without getting your hay tested you're still leaving it to chance. In the wild, horses forage. They have a sense for what they need – and find it. They can't do that with hay bales.
And it goes on. Some people say they can't believe the difference a simple change in supplements make. But remember, your horse can't forage – so you have to do it for them.
Then there's the shoes.
The difference in gait between a shod horse and a barefoot horse is easily seen: the natural bounce and elegance in a barefoot horse is beautiful sight. But it brings with it something all riders long for – the wonderful feeling of being more in touch with your horse.
Perhaps it's because a barefoot horse is much more sure-footed, and this in turn, is felt by the rider.
Transitioning your horse to barefoot is never straight forward, but I do know this, once you've ridden a barefoot horse, you'll want to make the effort.
You'll also save a fortune in farrier bills too.
Dabbling with natural horse care inevitably leads you to bitless bridles. Too me, it seems madness to inflict the pain and damage of a bit to my horse. There is no doubt in my mind it would rather stop from a hug to the head than a jolt to the teeth.
And if the truth be told, we all want our horses to love us as much as we love them. So why do we do it? Blind ignorance or because it's easy? Perhaps both.
But I do know this much. The bond between you and your horse will be infinitely stronger with a bitless bridle.
If what I've said has struck a chord with you, please do sign up to my helpful tips. I suspect you'll like them – but more importantly find them useful.
And of course I'm biased, but I think your horse will thank you too.