Horse Welfare Statement
Sid Gustafson DVM
In consideration of the horse’s nature and behavior horsemen are obligated to provide horses an appropriate environment, proper nutrition, sufficient sociobehavioral circumstances, as well as ethical training and horsemanship modalities. By nature the horse is a grazer of the plains, a social and herd animal, and flighty. Horsemanship and training are best accomplished through behavioral understanding of the horse and facilitation of the horse’s nature, rather than by force or coercion. Horses are best trained in the parasympathetic state. Training that puts the horse into the flight or sympathetic state generated by fear and contained by ropes or pens is discouraged, and not in accordance with acceptable standards of well being.
Horses graze and walk together 60-70% of the time under natural circumstances. Stabling should make every effort to accommodate or recreate these long-evolved preferences for proper physiological function and mental health.
Horses require other horses for proper health and prosperity. Horses require the constant companionship of other horses. A horse should seldom be kept alone. Every effort should be made to provide horses with the social benefit of appropriate other horses through times of stress and illness.
These behavioral considerations apply to horses in transport, and for those horses too, however unwanted, man is obligated to provide the proper environment, social functioning, nutrition, medical care, and exercise to sufficiently assure health and comfort.
Dr Gustafson provides consultations regarding the design and management of equine facilities to best accommodate the inherent nature and behavior of horses. He provides information and management assistance creating natural approaches to maintain equine health, prevent diseases, and resolve lameness.