Jane's cover image


Year of Award: 2011 Award State: Queensland Environment > Land
To study sustainable horsekeeping management systems with a view to minimising the environmental impact of horse properties - USA, Canada

Traditional horse management methods based on outdated European models are often not sustainable for Australian conditions and can have a major environmental impact for Australia. Overgrazing, often on very poor soils, combined with prolonged periods of drought followed by heavy rains/flood cause massive problems including soil loss, water pollution and weed infestation. Soil run off and manure from poorly managed horse properties enters the waterways creating environmental concerns.

Information is vital to minimise the impact of horses on the Australian environment. By improving property management and grazing management systems the impact can be significantly reduced. By adopting best practice procedures it is possible to achieve a win-win situation benefiting horses and their owners, the environment and native flora and fauna all at the same time.

There are a number of projects relating to sustainable horse management aroundthe USA. These include private initiatives and research or welfare organisations to partnerships with various government departments. This Winston Churchill Fellowship enabled me to visit a number of these sustainability projects to see which practices can be implemented within the Australian equine community. 

I wanted to make my trip as diverse as possible, reflecting the diversity of the Australian environment. I also wanted to look at the issues in question from several perspectives. Firstly, the actual management systems employed in different

climatic conditions. Secondly, what partnerships between public and private initiatives were successful and what were some of the limiting factors. And finally, what were the drivers for addressing some of the resulting issues both for public funding and for individual property owners.

I began in California, looking at what issues were faced in a highly populated, agricultural coastal area. I then went to Fulton Missouri, for two reasons. I wanted to look at what was being taught to equine students at a highly respected equine  University, William Wood University but also because the same town as the University, Fulton was also famous for the National Churchill Museum, an opportunity not to be missed.

From Missouri I travelled through Kentucky visiting the world famous Kentucky Horse Park and the Equine Land Resource Council. After Missouri I met spent the next few days in North Carolina with Clay and Lynette from Sustainable Stables and Holly Matt from Pegasus Design group. From North Carolina I had an intensive few days travelling north and visiting the model horse farm of the Prince William Soil & Water Conservation District in Virginia. Then onto visit the University of Maryland Equine 

Rotational Grazing Farm and Rutgers University best practice horse farm. I then flew back to the west coast, this time to the North West. Alayne Blickle from Horses for Clean Water has been working in this area for many years and was able to organise a very useful itinerary for me around the Seattle area. From there it was into southern British Colombia to look at an innovative project that recycles soiled horse bedding. From Canada I drove south to Idaho where Alayne is now based and spent a few days there. From Idaho I drove back to Seattle for the flight home via the Mustang Adoption Corral in Burns, Idaho to see what the US is doing to address the issue of feral horse population.

Immediately upon returning to Australia I had a meeting with a group of natural resource managers and decision makers from Melbourne Water (one of the funding bodies for our usual workshops). 

Other people from other organisations were invited to participate as well. I presented my findings and we had a round table discussion. I then provided six workshops for horse owners about sustainable horse keeping (which is what our usual business entails) in various states including Tasmania, Victoria, NSW and Queensland. The findings from the trip were integrated into our workshops. I also spoke at a Horses and Climate change workshop in South Australia during this time. I will continue to disseminate this information through the various and many workshops that I give as part of my business Equiculture.

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