comic illustrating six basic needs of a horse: forage, freedom, friends, safety, comfort, and fun

Horses Didn’t Sign the Contract

Many people live under the belief that because they own horses and provide for them, horses owe them their servitude. Many human adults would love a job that is minimal labor and all their life needs will be fully met, a home and food, set for life (not mentioning the downside of giving up your freedom to have your needs met) this can seem like a sweet deal. The problem with this comparison is that human adults can read the contract and give their consent, our ownership of horses is not like this. Horses are our dependents (like children). They owe us nothing, because we put them in our custody without their consent.
Whether they were bred by humans or taken from the wild, we chose to create them or remove them from nature and in doing so we have agreed to meet all their needs. Under NO Contingencies! We own them, so we owe them a complete quality of care and appropriately high welfare. With no requirements from the horse. Simply because we chose to keep them as our own, we owe them an appropriate quality of life.
A horse’s labor is not a determining factor for their level of care or vice versa.
To be clear (to be cleeaarrrrr) I’m not saying people shouldn’t do things with their horses, I’m not saying don’t ride or work. I’m only saying, providing their care is a basic requirement of owning a horse and does not entitle you to their outright servitude.
I also implore horse owners to look into positive reinforcement, science-based, ethically focused training techniques that allow more choice and consent on the part of the horse. Then you can continue to accomplish similar goals, like riding and working. This allows the horses to learn and participate in the things that we like to do, but with something in it for them (as an extra, not a part of their requirements).

Image by Fed Up Fred

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