Your Collective Voices Are The Power To Influence Change

Our members equines are the lucky ones, for they are loved and cherished with guardians who care passionately. Our members are keen to learn more about how to engage ethically with their equines and arrive with us for information and to share experiences. Sadly even as a very fast growing collective with numbers in the region of 9,500 members at the start of January 2018 we are still in the minority in the equine world. Many people experience isolation and ridicule for not riding and owning an equine they do not ride.       

Here our members have given their support with their thoughts, views and opinions. 

Alison Willis: "It's great to be part of a group of like minded horse carers who recognise that all horses have a right to a life worth living. Those of us who choose not to ride face prejudice and ridicule. Non Ridden Equines are often disregarded, passed from pillar to post or face the prospect of euthanasia because they are deemed to be of no use." I work as an Equine Holistic Therapist and Horse Charming Professional. 

Kharon Nakielny: "This is not only supporting the non ridden members but ever single owner to see that life with horses isn’t just about riding them. So many of us now seek the human horse bond. There’s way too much bullying and peer pressure to ride horses from yards and the horse world in general. There has to be support for those who choose not to ride whether through the horses injury old age or ethically from the point of the owner." 

Dyan Fidler: "The Non Ridden Equine Association UK / The Non Ridden Equine Facebook group has helped with information support and advice from like minded people. Many people choose not to tell others that they don't ride. This has changed since the start of this group. We need that collective voice to continue. There are also multitude of reasons why equines are non ridden and for every one of those who are loved and cared for there are many who are abused abandoned and neglected. The support and help to educate owners must continue."

Kate Jones: "I have always had non ridden horses along side my ridden ones and gave always kept my horses till the end of their lives be that through natural circumstances or my decision for their comfort. However the tables have turned now and due to first confidence issues and now health issues I am no longer able to ride properly. This has caused me a lot of anxiety as I feel I have always felt I should ride to keep the horses fit and happy, so the adjustment has been hard for me. Reading other people comment on this issue has really helped me come to terms with it and accept the future will be different but can be just as rewarding. I dont feel I am alone with my doubts and worries anymore. I have been inspired to try new things to enhance my relationship with my horses. The biggest problem with the non ridden horse is that some people think they are useless and a waste of money to keep. Education is key to encourage people to care for their own horses to the end of their days and to encourage them to give back for all the good times their horse has given them. It is rarely seemed as normal to have a rideable horse and not actually take advantage of that but there are so many other ways to enjoy their company. All they need it a bit of love and they will give it back in bucket loads. People don't need an excuse to own a dog so why a horse."

Debbie Feather: "The Non Ridden Equine Association UK and the associated Equine Facebook Group has united those of us who choose not to ride and illustrates just how many people in the 21st century have decided to interact with equines in a way that was unimaginable 100 years ago. Equines are no longer an essential tool for transport, agriculture or war. We are lucky enough now to be able to interact with these intelligent animals in many different ways, and riding of course is one option for those who choose it. For others, the joy lies in developing a strong bond which is just as valid as the one forged with the other animals, such as dogs and cats, with whom we choose to share our lives. The Association will be a strong and uniting voice in getting the message out there. Lets look afresh at the human/equine relationship that has developed over thousands of years and think beyond the stereotype of the horse as merely a means of transport, sport or instrument of war! As a re-homer of an non-ridden pony from a charity which rescues and rehabilitates suffering equines, I have seen at first hand just how difficult it is to place these animals in new homes. This is largely because people inevitably want to re-home an equine that can be ridden, because they see this as the only way to get 'best value for money'. Until people understand that riding is not the only way to interact with horses, the challenge of finding non-ridden homes for horses will continue. The indiscriminate breeding of horses which are conformationally unsuitable for riding only makes this problem worse. Explaining and illustrating alternative ways in which to keep and interact with horses is the key challenge we face. Ironically, some of the most entrenched thinking and closed minds are found within the equine establishment and this is a key barrier to progress. Those of us who choose not to ride often face scorn and ridicule from within the horse world rather than from the world at large - so the drive for change must come from within!" 

Tracy Currie: "The Non Ridden Equine Association UK / The Non Ridden Equine Facebook group has given me confidence to believe that you don't have to ride to have a relationship with your equine. Non ridden equines are treated as if they have no worth,  appalling!" I do voluntary work at a yard.

Robyn Harris: "The Non Ridden Equine Association UK / The Non Ridden Equine Facebook Group have helped by creating a space where I can go to connect with like-minded people, ask questions and share information on a topic that is not yet widely accepted elsewhere. In my work with people and their equines I believe that horses who are given a more natural lifestyle have so much to offer us which supports our greater well-being and balance. In order to do this most effectively the horse itself needs to be allowed to be a horse in the most natural setting available. Non-ridden equines have much wisdom to share and can support us in many ways, however this view is largely frowned on or actively criticised in much of the horse world which can make life very uncomfortable for those who choose to keep horses without riding them, or even just to keep a horse that can no longer be ridden for any reason. I believe that this is a great shame and if people were more aware of the information, support and community offered by groups such as the Non Ridden Equine Facebook Group it would be of great benefit to them." I work in health and wellness for people and animals, horses being my biggest passion. I use energy work, equine massage and also look at diet and lifestyle to help horses and people develop a greater bond, leading to better balance and well-being for both.

Olivia Cresswell: "I always felt there wasn't a group that I fitted in to, due to me having a young horse I didn't ride and was focusing on ground work. I also strongly believe that it is an honour that these horses allow us to ride, and not a necessity to owning a horse. The group gives me alternative ideas to riding, where both myself and my horse will gain benefit. From a sociology stand point, the pressure put on people to ride! The view that you have horses to ride needs to he abolished. Non-ridden equines are often over looked, people do not value a non-ridden horse as much as one that can be ridden. I also think poor breeding (creating issues that may cause a horse not to be able to be ridden) is a problem in itself, as it creates more horses that are being passed from pillar to post. Old age is inevitable, but too often these horses get sold on or advertised as "free to a good home, and can fall victim to being passed on or perhaps euthanized (when they are still happy and bright). Commercialism, horses being flogged when they don't make the mark or break down (biologically and psychologically). But yards wanting to get rid due to lack of space. People feel guilty for having a "field ornament" and not having the understanding that horses really don't mind if you don't ride them!People that choose not to ride, feel they need to explain themselves and their reasoning. When they don't!" I am Equine Sports Massage therapist, I provide therapeutic massage to Equines within Leicestershire, Rutland, and parts of Warwickshire, Northamptonshire and Derbyshire.

Shelley Oldfield: "As a founder of a small charity that works primarily with abandoned feral Ponies who are all unridden I enjoy and thoroughly commend the work of promoting the non ridden equine highlighting that there’s just as much joy and satisfaction to be had by enjoying a non ridden experience with your equine friends. As a small rescue charity it is harder to find loving homes for young or old unridden ponies." I run a small charity (Bodmin Moorland Pony Rehabilitation) helping abandoned feral Moorland, Hill Ponies and small fly grazed cob ponies. Getting them back to health again, gaining their trust and finding them loving homes

Amanda Offord: "It's great for us all who care about non ridden equines to have a place to discuss our experiences. I am lucky I haven't had any criticism of cherishing my non ridden horse but I know many people do. It's such a shame so many wonderful horses are unwanted because they can't be ridden when they have so much to give."

Jackie Cross: "About 18 months ago I brought Mable she was older horse and was in the past a brood mare. When I got her her feet was very bad and she was very bloated because of lack of food. I found very hard in the first year and I thought I would have to sell her or put her to sleep as I did not want to pass her on as I had promised her she would stay with me. I can't remember how I got to speak to Vicki but she introduce me to the group and encourage me to carry on. I am not a rider as I have problems health wise. I have found some people can be cruel to horses and people alike. Treating horses to near starvation after they use them as a mono profiting then just throwing them away. These horses need people like this group supports. Please help save these horses. We need people who don’t ride and who supports and looks after the horses that are throne away. People make fun at these none riding people one day they will hopefully understand." 

Andrea Jenkins: "I have grown so much in confidence with my donkey and horse herd. Having a community to ask questions and get ideas has been invaluable. In other equine communities we are ridiculed as wasting away as paddock ornaments, not seen for all the ground work and deep connection we do each day. My herd and I thrive in a positive community that offers us ideas and solutions and new avenues to explore. I love sharing our progress and reading everyone else's. It's the best group I've joined on Facebook. So inspiring and brings hope for the many non-ridden equine of the world. May their gifts be recognised. Being ridiculed and ostrasied from most equine communities. Continual pressure to ride. Lack of clinics/resources that focus on ground based activities." I work in the equine industry donkey rescue and activism. 

Melissa Jarzynski: "The Non Ridden Equine Association UK / The Non Ridden Equine Facebook Group has given a voice to so many of us who do not ride. Until now, it was very hard to find others who share our views. It’s important to show others these horses have purpose, other than riding."

Sharon M Abbott: "The Non Ridden Equine Association UK / The Non Ridden Equine Facebook Group validates my feelings. The issues and challenges are convincing others of the value." I work in the Equine Industry as a Behaviourist. 

Louise Fessenden: "This is an amazing group! My horses are both in good health. I can ride if I want to, but I truly enjoy playing with them and spending time with them even more. With this group unlike some others I don’t feel any pressure about not riding. It’s ok if you don’t ride your horses, no guilt or questions. Just complete understanding, we love our horses and that’s enough!"

Pat Harrison: "The Non Ridden Equine Association UK / The Non Ridden Equine Facebook group has helped by seeing so many people with amazing photos... like me.. enjoying our non ridden horses and ponies. Great group. I think we all face challenges of one sort or another and this group is just lovely.. to find out there are so many people who choose not to ride... and have so much fun .. love and understanding with their ponies and also learning more each day."

Emilie Andrews: "The Non Ridden Equine Association UK / The Non Ridden Equine Facebook group has helped me feel much less guilty about not riding. My horse is wonderful, but over the past year my anxiety has gotten worse. I can ride him with just a halter and two lead ropes but I’m still anxious. This group has supported me and given me suggestions of what I can do with him other than ride. I think as long as you keep your horse in good physical condition and give him/her the attention and care they need and deserve, it’s their business whether they ride or choose not to."

Maria Olarte: "The Non Ridden Equine Association UK and the Non Ridden Equine Facebook group has given me invaluable support and advice. I had already made the decision not to ride my mare for ethical reasons, much shunned by the 'traditionalists' who believe a horse must do 'a job' and will 'get bored' not being forced to have a rider on her back every day. We had an osteopath come to the herd here once and she took one look at my mare and said what a beautiful free back she had and she could tell immediately she had never been ridden. I do not feel that our amazing bond can be improved by me sitting on her back. Being part of this group has made me feel part of a community."

Christine Adams: "I am no longer able to ride due to health problems and this group has shown me new ways to interact with my ponies which has not only improved my relationship with them, but also helps to stop them becoming bored. It's about being allowed to enjoy your non-ridden equine without feeling you have to defend your actions, It's about being accepted. After all a dog is taken for a walk, so why can't we walk our horse or a border collie is working dog, but can do agility classes without raising an eye so why can't our horses."

Bonnie Olmstead: "I no long own any horses. I love seeing them and it brings my heart joy that older horses are kept just because they are loved. I didn't ride my old horse Hank much in the end, but just being with him in the pasture or yard was enough. Sometimes when he was laying down I would lay down with him with my head on his neck. He would go to sleep (and snore really loud) but it was calming. You so I could not afford to keep Hank any longer. there was a man down the street who wanted him so I let him have him. I told him Hank had some front end issues and could not be ridden hard, and not to feed him straight alfalfa hay. Thank God we made the deal that if I didn't feel he was treating him right I could have him back. So, I did have to take him back. Wish I had done it sooner. Hank was horribly foundered by that time. It got so he would not come off the hill to eat. I was taking his food to him. He still loved on me and me on him. I kept him until the day I looked in his big beautiful brown eyes and they said no more mama please. Please do not think me cruel as could not stand to see him in such pain and had him put down. You see I have bi-polar and anxiety, along with insomnia,and he made my world a better place just being there. Please don't ever let anyone make you feel bad for not riding. It's a chose, they don't really care they just want your love. Keep doing what you are doing and show them with your pictures how happy these horses are."

Kathleen E Shantz: "It shows how many different things that all equines offer us. I have never seen or heard of a rule that requires an equine owner that they have to be ridden by humans."

Carole A. Swillinger: "I recently bought my Sara Lee, a Dun Miniature Buckskin Mare who's stall is in my backyard on 5.5 acres. I have many questions and everyone's advice and experience is quite helpful. I don't fully understand why anyone has the right to question those of us who choose not to ride. Some due to human or horse injuries. We all do what we feel is right for us."

Candice Ensign: "I founded a rescue is the us many of our horses are not rideable we evaluate them to become equine coaches to work with at risk individuals (no riding required) I feel raising public awareness that horses have so many gifts to offer humans outside of being ridden." I work for non profit venture Journey with Equus

Schelli Whitehouse: Though I live in the US I find this group to be warmly supportive and interactive in the sharing of their love and respect for their equine partners. I'm always drawn to horse-people who value the relationship, companionship, and deeper connection to our own conscious awareness through the eyes of our horses. I also received wonderful, honest feedback on my book cover last month that helped me decide which one to publish! That meant a lot to me. I actually think about this a lot as I am an equine assisted coach and originally boarded at several facilities where people thought I was 'strange' because I spent more time on the ground with my horse, playing and going for walks than I did riding. Long story-short, I have a private facility now. One of the biggest challenges for equine assisted practitioners is explaining the benefits of what our horses provide for humans (I believe - all of humanity!)There are a lot of qualified practitioners who are struggling to make a living and do their important work full time because they don't know how to share the value of what it is they do!" I have been an equine assisted coach since 2008. My work is primarily based on the Eponaquest Approach though I also incorporate other methodologies depending on the needs of the client. I spent 5 years teaching equine assisted coaching and facilitation for Equine Alchemy. This past year I wrote the book, "The Business of Coaching with Horses ~ How to Reach More Clients, Feed Your Horses and Change the World!"I now teach, coach and consult with qualified equine assisted practitioners to help them define and grow a profitable equine assisted business. I plan to launch a free Facebook group next week where equine assisted professionals can gather for specific support and inspiration around their businesses!I am on a mission to make equine assisted learning/therapy a valued, go-to modality for health, healing and personal awareness.

Gabriela Rodriguez Quinn: "A friend who joined suggested it, as it was in line with my personal philosophies regarding horses. At once the energy felt positive and as a horse owner it became a safe haven to share experiences and a place to meet other compassionate, caring, and knowledgeable horse owners throughout the world who love and are committed to their horses. In addition the administration does a very effective job by posting rules which are respectfully followed by the members. It has been a very educational and interesting experience and has allowed members to provide resources and information that can be useful to others as well as providing support for issues horse owners face. I also appreciate that there is a community of horse owners that don't put riding or traditional use over the welfare of their horse and am glad to see organization in a group who care about the horses welfare & may be able to improve it as well as be an entity of it's own in a world where riding is the focus and not the horse. I have started a page called The Non Ridden Equine New England so people can share in a smaller group if they choose. The New England page is a sister to the original UK page and goes by the same rules. Society and the horse culture has put a priority on the horses use, not necessarily on their welfare, leaving the horses behind. As stoic and prey animals horses can easily be abused and neglected . Much is due to ignorance, a lack of knowledge and the goal of using and then disposing of them. A large number of horses that have served humans become unwanted when they can no longer be ridden and continue to be transported to slaughter. Though different countries and regions have similar issues there are also unique issues and laws that regulate the industry. It would be good to see this horse community become unified and an organization develop to tackle the issues." I am Director of BlixxHorses, an Educational Maine 501(c)(3) Non Profit. This is our 10th anniversary of providing non -riding programs to the public. I am very aware of how foreign the concept of putting the horse before the purpose in sports is to most and have been happy to see that this concept is welcome by many.

Ian McCallum: "The Non Ridden Equine Facebook Group and the Association has allowed me to share my experience of having a non ridden equine and our shared adventures to a wider range of like minded people. There's a strong negative bias against people who choose not to ride their equines for various reasons. There's also a higher value (not always monetary) placed on ridden equines that I believe to be unfair to those of us who choose not to ride."

Janice Evans: "It is good to belong to a group of people with similar ideals. Sometimes equines can be cast off when they are no longer rideable, this is hardly fair or moral. People should not be judged for choosing or being unable to ride their equine. There is a lot to be gained from being an equine carer and simply sharing your life with them."

Eti Jacoby: "The Non Ridden Equine Association UK / The Non Ridden Equine Facebook Group has helped me with new ideas, information, friendly environment and feeling I am not alone. I’m not from UK but I really like this group. How to help race horses after they finish to run. How to help old horses." I teach healing workshops with horses, horse energy, from the ground. Horse can heal people, without riding. 

Ruth Andrews: "After years of seeing horses forced to be ridden that should not be, this group gives me hope that better things are on the way. Issue number one is that many horse folks in my area do not see value until a horse is ridable, particularly many horse rescues. Issue number two is that people who choose not to ride are also devalued." I worked in the equine industry until Feb. of 2017 with a horse rescue. I was making inroads into the thinking there, but the new leadership of that rescue has other ideas and is focusing on assembly-line-type training, regardless of the equine's sensibilities, and is advertising "ridable" horses before they are safe to ride. They are also completing adoptions to individuals who should never own a horse. Their focus is on quick and many adoptions, rather than on safe adoptions.

Janet Moulder: "It has been great to find many others who for whatever reason do not ride their beloved horses and ponies . I unfortunately do not use Facebook, but still love to know that there is someone out there who believes horses don't have to be ridden I chose not to ride my beautiful Warmblood because of my own medical issues, this has not affected him in anyway, Brad loves me for who I am and not what I do or don't. While at a livery yard I was constantly being badgered about not riding this amazing Warmblood, however no-one could understand that not riding was just as rewarding. My horse makes me laugh everyday and that is far better than forcing him to carry my heavy/unbalanced weight."

Ann Dijkstra: "It is lovely to interact with like-minded people. There are so many things to do with your horse other than riding that give just as much pleasure. Also, when a horse cannot be ridden due to an injury or age, it should get love and attention just the same. Non ridden horses are not "useless" or "a waste of money", the can teach us loads and love us so much. Horses enrich your life, ridden or non ridden."

Julia Felton: "Assumptions: people think you are strange if you don't ride! For horses they are often let go of if no longer suitable for purpose ie being ridden, but there are loads of other jobs they can do, being solid citizens and making a meaningful contribution i.e. equine facilitated learning." I do leadership development with horses. I got into this work as my horse was no longer rideable and needed a job to do. I also have a retired race horse and two cobs that I rescued at 6 months old, who are now rideable. Although I do sometimes ride them it has never been about riding but rather about the relationship I have with them.

Kez. Photograph by C.A.Slade.