Horses are incredible gifts to us in many ways. But outside of riding them on trails like we have at Middleton, what other resources do horses offer us?
Majestic, strong, beautiful creatures. Those are just a few words that describe these beautiful animals we call Horses. They have always given so much to us, and still continue to do so every day. They bring such joy to our riders who enjoy our trails every day, and for centuries have provided transportation and help to farmers, builders, businessmen, and more. But with the dawning of technology and their uses in transportation and daily life growing less and less - what have these beautiful creatures been doing to help us? A lot more than you would think! Every day they give back to us and the planet and are one of the biggest contributors to keeping our ecosystem and our planet healthy, clean, and functioning.
When it comes to trails and trail riding, horses automatically give back to the environment and your safety. For any park, nature preserve, or historical lands horseback riding saves the land from human damage. Horseback riding is low energy and a low impact on the world around you. People can trample through areas and destroy so much precious vegetation or delicate landmarks without even knowing it. Horses can be trained to walk around and guide their riders to see these beautiful areas without touching them - keeping them safe and intact. You can see the world around you without harming it, reducing any footprint a human leaves behind.
Horses are also much safer than hiking alone through the woods. The sounds and vibrations a horse makes naturally when walking are calming and common to many animals found in nature. Many dangerous animals to humans, including snakes and bears, will not react to their presence like they would a human. You are dramatically reducing the rate of getting bit, attacked, scratched, or put in danger all while riding a horse. Since these animals are not bothered or scared away from their natural habitats when we are on horseback - it keeps them in their environment and homes where they should be. This helps keep the ecosystem in balance and keep the wildlife intact. Wild horses give so much to the world around them too and they are known as nature's healers. Where ever they roam and graze, they help the world around them rebuild and continue to flourish, and help the ecosystem thrive just like owned horses. A wild horse can break through the ice of lakes and streams so animals who don't have the power to do so can reach a water source in the wintertime.
Horses are also one of the biggest contributors to renewable energy and resources. Horses produce up to 9.1 tons of manure every year, and this manure can be turned into green energy for the farms it's created on or for energy companies around these farms. If the farm itself doesn't want or doesn't have the resources to turn their manure into power - the manure can be sold off to companies that can, which brings revenue to the farm itself. But, if the farm does have these resources the power it creates can be sold off and become another form of revenue. Horse manure can also be turned into safe and clean fertilizers, much quicker and safer than factory-made fertilizers. A lot of farms have the resources to turn manure into fertilizers on their property and can get it to their fields and crops much faster than factory-made fertilizer. They also have the opportunity to sell it for yet another form of revenue for the farm.
Fertilizers made from horse manure have a lot of wonderful benefits for the world around it. It's made to prevent air and water pollution and can be used in fields close to water sources or in areas that have large amounts of runoff from fields into streams. It also improves soil quality and productivity. It increases the number of nutrients in the soil, keeping it healthier and creating a better ecosystem for plants to grow in. Higher productivity leads to more growth of grass and vegetation which prevents erosion and prevents the growth of brush. Without this brush, the chances of wildfires spreading or happening decreases dramatically.
Horses also help preserve grasslands. If a farmer practices rotational grazing, this prevents overgrazing and promotes grass to keep growing. With grass still in the grazing fields from rotational grazing, this also prevents erosion and promotes healthy growth of vegetation in these fields for years to come. Rotational grazing also allows manure to decompose. The broken-down manure provides incredible nutrients to the soil.
Other forms of grasslands like pastures, farms, trails, and other green spaces that horses call home are also home to a lot of other wildlife. Keeping these spaces healthy and safe for horses provides a healthy and safe home for other animals and vegetation. Habitats of many animals are maintained through horses grazing patterns. Tall grasses and plants left uneaten by a horse, hide and protect larger animals. Whereas shorter grasses eaten by horses protect smaller animals who need this grass to hide from predators. A well cared for pasture can retain at least 70% ground cover all year, unlike cropland. Rotating these lands and keeping them well cared for protects not only your horses but also your farm's well being, and the ecosystem around it.
Most horse farmers utilize trough watering for their animals. This promotes the protection and safety of natural water sources like lakes, streams, and ponds. It prevents erosion along the edges of these water sources and keeps them flowing naturally. Horses are being used to not only keep their farms and pastures healthy and flourishing, but they are also being used in the conservation of parks, green spaces, and rural landscapes. These horses are inspiring these areas to grow back or continue growing healthily. Horses also spread seeds while grazing just like birds do. Once they are passed through their digestive system, they are left behind to grow in very fertile land. Horses are also very picky about what they eat. They will eat grass and weeds, making way for other plants to grow and thrive and kill off weeds that are harmful to their growth. They will also naturally trample unwanted weeds and plants that are harmful to the growth of healthy grass and plants too.
Horses aren't just beautiful to watch and fun to ride, horses are helping the planet grow and stay healthy every day. From farms to trails like you can find at Middleton, horses are keeping your world healthy and safe. Come visit us and enjoy taking part in this wonderful circle of life.
Middleton Place Team