Life With A Friesian Dream

If you can’t afford a retired horse, you can’t afford a horse!

And this is not about money, it is about the responsibility you have when you decide to buy a horse in the first place. Like all other pets, we are responsible for looking after them, feed them, give them vet care and stand by their side ─ and we can’t stop doing that when they get older!

And then you have people who claim they can’t afford a horse they can no longer use. And this is the point where I get pissed off. Truly angry. What the hell?

Imagine you had a dog, you spent 10 years together and your dog is starting to get older. It can’t be a huge shock, can it? Animals age, just as humans do. You knew it when you met your puppy and fell in love ten years ago. It can’t join you on long hikes and adventures anymore, and maybe it need help walking up and down the stairs in your home. Would you try to get rid of the dog, simply because your best friend wasn’t young anymore? «I’m sorry Fido, shelter next, I will get a new puppy instead. Thanks for staying faithful, I won’t.» In my opinion that is nothing but heartless.

It is the same with horses. Your show jumper, a horse you have owned for a decade, can’t compete anymore due to an old injury or a tired back. But it can join you on hacks in the forest, and you can still enjoy many happy years together ─ why on earth would you get rid of your old friend, simply because of your own egoism?

If you can’t afford your horse when it is time to retire him, you can’t afford a horse in the first place. An old horse cost approx. the same as a younger horse since I checked, unless you are dealing with health issues or your horse needs expensive medication. But that should not be a huge shock either, if you know the basics of biology.

It is not a question about what you can afford or not; it is a question about how big your heart is, and how much you really did love your horse. Because if you love someone, you won’t leave them because you want to reach a higher level in a sport or do more fancy tricks!

Yes, keeping horses is expensive as hell, I’m well aware, I have one myself. But when your horse will run through flames for you, travels across the country in a box on wheels and always stay by your side through your life, both ups and downs, and truly give you everything – the least you can do in return is to continue to care for your friend when the age reaches 20. When the legs aren’t as fast as they used to be, the muscles aren’t as strong as they once were. The coat not as shiny, but his love for you is greater than ever.

Peace, love and Friesian hugs,
Batman and one angry Matilde

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Life With A Friesian Dream

Things all hestefolk from Norway can relate to

Equestrians in Norway is a rare species, I can assure you that. Let me give you an exclusive look into the world I come from!
  • They wear the varmedress, a piece of warm fashion only worn by kindergarten teachers, hobos and equestrians
  • They argue in the Facebook group called Hestedebatt (horse-debate), when the discussions goes crazy, they are thrown out and end up in a group called Hestedebatt-Rebellene (the horse-debate-rebels), and the ones that gets thrown out from that group, continue the important discussion in De ekte Hestedebatt-Rebellene (meaning the real horse-debate-rebels)
  • They love Hest.no, and basically all equestrian blogs in Norway can be found on this platform. Hest.no has been live since the stone age, I remember using their logo in fourth grade for a school project. Hest.no for life.
  • Every winter, we all become engineers and invents hundred different sorts of frost-free water buckets so our horses can drink water without ice on it
  • The best thing in the world is to ride in the snow with a Golden Stripe blanket keeping you warm
  • We wear Kingsland simply because Kingsland
  • Half of the equestrians in Norway believe their horses simply cannot physically feel cold, the other half prefer to make their horse wear at least three rugs at the same time
  • We have developed a special way to walk on ice wearing riding boots, based on the penguin’s walking technique and it is awesome
  • We don’t ride without our beloved helmets because we care about our precious Norwegian brains
  • When they hate each other, they report their enemy to the almighty Mattilsynet (Food Safety Authority, they are actually responsible of the welfare of horses in this weird country, I mean, horses are friends not food)
  • They all remember the time when all the show jumpers wore Tretorn-boots and GPA-helmets
  • We take our konfirmasjonsbilder on a horse wearing a bunad
  • We don’t read Matilde’s blog that often because it is in English, and often wonder if she is actually from Norway, or a German spy…
Learn Norwegian with Matilde

hest horse
ponni pony 
fjording norwegian fjord horse
krangel argument
bobleplast bubble wrap
det finnes ikke dårlig vær, bare dårlige klær there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing
blakk poor
rundball forage
spik spenna gæærn og klin sprø a person who rides bridleless on hacks

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Peace, love and Friesian hugs,
Batman & Matilde

Life With A Friesian Dream

It is time to stop lying, FEI

My blog posts about the incidence at Gothenburg Horse Show got world-wide attention in March, and I understand why. A horse being treated unfair and punished on live TV in Sweden is indeed shocking. The rider is now back in the saddle, and got away with it all with an apology. I don’t think the horse care so much about a Facebook post.

«As I see it today, it is okay to kick, hit and whip horses. It is okay to pull the reins, attached to a metal piece, so hard that you can feel it in your biceps the day after. It is okay to use rollkur and if you are rich and famous enough, you can even try to enter the arena on a lame horse during FEI competitions. Is this really how we want our sport to be like?»

The horses care about the immense pain they are dealing with when a rider is pulling the reins multiple times in a row while kicking its sensitive ribs with boots equipped with spurs. The horses care about not being punished with violence when they are doing everything they can to please us. Every single day, they are performing on a high level both physically and mentally, pushing themselves to the limit. Traveling thousands of miles. Airplanes. Busy warm up-arenas. Walls taller than themselves, they carry their riders safely over with pride. Over and over again. With all their heart, they help their riders achieve their goals. Being the most important part of the team, every day. Without a single complaint when they are treated unfair, they keep going on. Horses may forgive, but they never forget.

If the FEI really cares about the welfare of the horses in our sport, inhumane treatment of animals should have severe consequences. Every single time.

If the FEI is planning to continue to let horses suffer in our sport, I recommend you to stop lying to the world, claiming that “the welfare of the horse is at the heart of all our activities”, because that’s simply not true if you seriously are allowed to abuse your partner during the competition. May I suggest changing it to “the welfare of the rider’s name and reputation is at the heart of all our activites” instead? More fitting.

As I see it today, it is okay to kick, hit and whip horses. It is okay to pull the reins, attached to a metal piece, so hard that you can feel it in your biceps the day after. It is okay to use rollkur and if you are rich and famous enough, you can even try to enter the arena on a lame horse during FEI competitions. Is this really how we want our sport to be like? Because the Code of Conduct simply does not matter anymore when breaking the rules does not have consequences.

The future of horse sports is in danger if we don’t do anything about this problem. It is time to make our sport better, with being as strict as we have to every time animals is treated unfair.

ribbon

Life With A Friesian Dream

Batman’s natural luxury life

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Ethical training methods, equal respect and harmony between horse and human are extremely important to me when I’m around Batman. But I’m only spending a couple of hours a day with him. How he lives when I’m not there is what matters the most. So, how does Batman live?

Since I got Batman in 2009, he has lived outside in a herd 24/7. I chose turnout over a traditional stable because horses are herd animals, they are made to wander many miles a day, and locking him up in a tiny stall was not even in our minds.

Since 2011, his home has been a lovely stable south of Oslo. He is living in a balanced herd with other mares and geldings, and he thrives. He is always down to earth when we are training, he is always coming to the gate to greet me and he is happy and calm. I LOVE being able to let him live like this, and I’m gladly traveling 3 hours every single day to cover Batman’s natural needs.

When I’m not in the stable, he is free to do as he pleases. He has free access to high quality haysilage, temperated water and shelter. He can walk among the trees and dig for roots, he can run around and play, he can go inside the shed and sleep in the soft bedding, he can eat, he can be social and interact with the other horses, and his needs for natural behavior are well covered. When I I arrives and he hear my voice, he will immediatly say bye to his buddies and walk towards me to greet me, not because he has been waiting for me all day, bored to hell, but because he wants to hang out with me.

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«I think traditional stables where you place a 500 kg herd animal, a result of 45 million years of evolution, made for roaming free, in a 4×4 meter box for 12 hours a day will soon be old fashioned as we learn more about their natural needs.»

The modern way to keep horses will, hopefully soon, be in large paddock paradises. We don’t see boxes as cages, but many non-equestrians do. Horses will of course need time for themselves every now and then, and they need rest. Studies have shown that horses boarded traditionally rests more than horses in turnout, so we must find a good way to make sure the horses can lie down and rest when they need to. The area must be built in a way that makes it easy for the horses to have their own space, and rest without getting chased away or disturbed. But horses are made for movement, interaction with other horses, and a social life in a herd. In Norway, the normal is to keep the horse in a box, and the law only requires 2 hours outside in a paddock a day. That is, in my opinion, not a good life for any horse. We have no law on keeping horses together, and many live in isolation. Yes, horses are extremely adaptable animals, and they can get used to living in small paddocks without company. But that does not mean it is the best solution.

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In Denmark, we can see a very positive trend; most young horses grow up in herds. I hope it will continue to develop this way, and other horses soon can run around, play, eat, sleep and interact on larger areas outside. The result will be more harmonic horses with a better health, both mentally and physically. We must listen to science when it comes to boarding horses in the future.

We must set the horse’s natural behavior as the priority number one, before of our own comfort. Horses that live in herds together with other horses, free to run around, play and eat when they needs to, will be more calm, relaxed and mentally balanced.

Peace, love and Friesian hugs,
Batman & Matilde

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