The welfare of all our horses really matters to us. We want them to be as fit, happy and healthy as possible. Especially after some of the hardships they endured before arriving at the Sanctuary.
Over the years we have all learned a lot about the care of our animals. And in many cases just using common sense or horse sense.
The Five Freedoms
There are many reasons why an equine may be distressed or need assistance. And we have chosen to align our Horse Welfare Watch with the ‘Five Freedoms’ identified by The Animal Welfare Act 2006. Which enshrines the animal owner’s ‘Duty of Care’ in British Law:
Freedom from hunger or thirst – the animal has little or no access to fresh water and/or food.
Freedom from discomfort – the animal does not have somewhere to lie down or gain shelter. Or is exposed to extreme weather conditions.
Freedom from pain, injury or disease – the animal clearly shows disease, an untreated injury or perhaps severely overgrown hooves.
Freedom to express (most) normal behaviour – the animal is tethered incorrectly and/or does not have sufficient space or proper facilities and living conditions. Further information on tethering can be found here.
Freedom from fear and distress – abandoned animals. Those subject to dog attacks, low flying aircraft or similar or those suffering from any of the above.
Horse Welfare in Tenerife
We have found that It is very common for horses to be kept in all different situations here on the island. Often inside a room/ stable/ space made of metal bed frames for 24 hours a day only taken out to go riding. Of course sometimes this comes with the mistreated cases, knee deep in their own waste with no food or water. But sometimes this is also the case for the "well" looked after horses, having food, water and general care but being kept inside alone. Often the only horse on the property. Sadly, it can all be due to ignorance and genuinely not knowing any better regarding the welfare of horses.
This island is fairly small with limited access to land. And the land is generally rock and very uneven making it almost impossible for big open paddocks allowing free movement for horses. Here at our finca we keep all of our horses in mini herds of between 3 and 6 and they live out 100% of the time. We currently have 5 different paddocks of various sizes allowing as much movement as possible. But we would love to expand and buy neighbouring land for more and bigger paddocks. Although the size of our paddocks are very large compared to the norm here. They are still in our opinion too small to allow complete freedom for optimum health and well being. To keep all of our horses appropriately exercised and stimulated, we have volunteers who work with them daily. This includes a variety of different ways from in hand walking, free schooling to some riding.
Horse feedFeeding is another taboo topic here. Maybe due to knowing no better again or because we are on a small volcanic island. Thus all feed has to be shipped in due to nothing growing here. This results in feed being very expensive, unreliable, often bad quality and not easily accessible. Very often the basic feed is kilos of oats with straw. Fed only once a day. We feed our horses a minimum of 3 times a day. Each horse has its own tailor made diet depending on its specific needs. Which generally gives access to the best quality forage that we can get hold of for around 18 hours a day.
We understand that keeping horses in this climate comes with plenty of challenges not limited to food and living space. Basic Vet care and hoof care isn't really trustworthy. Since many "professionals" offer far less than adequate services. Thus, making it very hard for the horse owner to find someone to trust. And expand their knowledge of horse welfare. We pride ourselves for doing the very best we can in the situation we are in. And we aim to help spread awareness whilst being understanding to the way things are here. We would like to make it clear that this if obviously not the case for all of the horse welfare on the island. Just what we have to deal with on a regular basis. We see many different people who are doing the best they know how for their animals. We are here to help these people and we are here to help the animals who are not so lucky and find themselves abused or mistreated.