As a backyard horse-keeper, I am responsible for all my horses’ care. I make the decisions about housing, feeding, exercising, health care, etc . . . I am the only person out there with my horses day in and day out. In many ways, I welcome the autonomy that backyard horse-keeping entails, but an enormous responsibility comes with that independence.
My horses do well or don’t do well largely because of me. It is a sobering thought.
They rely on me to make appropriate decisions on their behalf. When I do, they thrive. When I don’t, there have been serious consequences.
Unfortunately, when it comes to horse care, I have repeated more than one mistake and made plenty of new ones along the way. As long as I have breath, I expect I will struggle with putting all the right pieces together in the right order at the right time.
To that end, I need to keep learning. I don’t want to be one of those people who does the same thing for thirty years without taking into account whether or not my actions continue to benefit my horses and me.
As someone with a more modest income, it is not easy for me to access the amount or level of equine education that I would otherwise like to have. I see lots of things I am interested in, but the prices to participate are frequently out of my reach. While I do occasionally attend a multi-day clinic or something along those lines, most of my education has to come from lower cost or free sources. In future posts, I will explore different educational experiences I have had over the years with my horses, but today I want to mention the topic of free equine education events.
I have been attending these types of events for years and really enjoy them. These free equine education events are usually hosted by local veterinary offices or feed stores. They are held on weekends or on a weekday evening so working equestrians can more easily attend. Generally they are a short-format event lasting maybe a couple of hours. Often door prizes are offered (yah!) as well as free swag (pens, bags, coupons, etc . . .) and product samples. I grab any handouts offered and usually take copious notes that I save as reference. I learn something new at almost every event and enjoy trying the samples.
I do keep in mind who is sponsoring the event. Often, though not always, these are designed to be marketing events. If it is a pharmaceutical company or a feed company, they obviously are hoping that the presentation will eventually result in my buying one of their products. That doesn’t necessarily mean the information is not sound, but I just keep the reason for the presentation in mind as I make choices about the featured product.
So where do you find announcements about these events? Check out Facebook/ websites/email newsletter lists from your favorite local horse businesses. Ask your friends and your local horse club for suggestions too.
If you are a backyard horse-keeper like me, your horses are counting on you to take care of them. Arm yourself with good information and then go out and apply what you learn. May all our horses be better for the efforts we put into our continuing education.