What’s Good for Horses

Determining a State of Wellness

by Catherine Madera


Photo courtesy of Laura Schonberg. Mateo and I riding in the Mount Baker foothills.

When I first got my 5-year-old BLM mustang, Mateo, he had a curious habit. Nearly every day, usually at dusk, I would watch him walk to the corner of his small pasture and gallop back the way he had come. The space is nearly a perfect square and it appeared Mateo chose the longest possible angle to enjoy his brief gallop. Watching from the kitchen window, I always felt sad. This once wild creature longed to stretch his legs, the way he did in the vast Oregon desert of his birth. In a few months time Mateo completely settled in and stopped his evening ritual. I then broke the gelding to ride and trained him in the ways a saddle horse is expected to behave.

I sold Mateo this fall to a wonderful woman who is eager to continue what I started with him. When I consider his journey from the BLM holding pens to his new home, I ponder this month’s theme—equine wellness. This encompasses the physical, mental and emotional. It’s very easy to get sentimental about horses and imagine an ideal state of being that is actually not healthy for them at all. Had Mateo not been adopted, it’s very likely he would have lived out life in the BLM holding pens, milling around for years with hundreds of other mustangs that would have eventually aged to the point of being unadoptable. And had he not been taken from the wild, he could easily have been killed or starved to death. Captivity and training actually provided a state of wellness not found on the range.

Horses are highly adaptable, but I encourage you to consider your own horses and their state of wellness. Is there anything you can do to improve it? Sometimes little changes, like increasing turnout time, can make a big difference. Enjoy the magazine this month. We have some wonderful articles related to our theme, including the cover story on how Kalypso Bay Farm in Deming, WA increases wellness for horses and people.

Ride on and be WELL!


Published in October 2015 Issue

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