Earth Day Equestrian: Doing Your Part All Season

Bridlespur Hunt Club. Photo by Amy Nelson.

Earth Day is April 22, 2019! The human impact on the environment has been known for decades, but lately it has become an epidemic. From garbage in the oceans to mountains of plastic bottles and water shortages, we are reaching a crisis. As the millions of equestrians around the world, we can have a huge impact on our planet! Can you imagine the global effect this will have if every single one of us makes small changes?

1. Carpool. Carpool to the barn, or ride share to a show or trail. Not only will this save gas and emissions, this will also save you tons of money! Obviously we can’t haul trailers in environmentally friendly vehicles, but we can do our part to ride share to events. Many regions have social media pages where you can see if someone has an open slot in their trailer. Especially in areas where you are going long distances, I always find this is a great time for camaraderie and fun with fellow horse people when we all ride together!

2. Reusable water bottles. It’s important to stay hydrated at an event, and even though plastic bottles are convenient, it only takes a couple extra seconds to fill a reusable water bottle. Many events now have places where you can fill them up at the show. If not, stock up at home and fill down from your tap — you can even get bottles in your team colors/logo to show how your stable cares about the earth! This can be a money saver in the long run, but knowing that you have put fewer plastic bottles in the world should make you feel good. Maybe contact your show and see if they would offer water filling stations.

Amy Nelson & Hummingbird’s Mendacium. Photo by Vic’s Pics.

3. Do electronic entries. It will save on envelopes, checks, and paper! Can you imagine how much paper would be saved throughout the year, if ALL of us did not have stacks of printed entries? Even though many times there is a convenience fee, it is only a couple of dollars, and it will also ensure your entry is in immediately. If you must print, contact your organizer and ask that they recycle entries after they are no longer needed on file.

4. Recycle! Recycling is unfortunately not available in every area, but do your part where you can, by recycling boxes and packaging from online orders of horse supplies, extra showbills, catalogs and more. Maybe start a recycle bin at your barn with your Pony Club or Show Team, and take a team trip to drop off these items. Or reuse them for starting a cozy fire in the off season!

5.  Reduce Your Water Use. Don’t waste water for your horse. Obviously we use water to wash them, give them drinks, etc., but don’t let the hose just run down the drain. Get them wet, turn it off, scrub, and then rinse. Use buckets to see just how much you use, and to save gallons at a time! Also, when offering your horse a drink of water in their buckets on the road or at an event, if they don’t drink it all, don’t just dump it down the drain. One of my students showed my an ingenious way to save this waste when we offered a drink to our horses in the trailer at a gas station — she watered the potted flowers at the truck stop with the leftover water! You could also give a drink to the plants or grass at the event. It sounds silly but that way it’s not just running down the drain for no reason. If you know you are leaving the event soon, don’t fill your horse’s bucket to the top. Give them a half bucket to start. You can always add more if they are still thirsty. But imagine how much you won’t waste!

Amy Nelson and Lyndsey Humpal at Sangchris Lake State Park.

6. Don’t use straws. Even my 17 year old stepson who is a diehard straw user recently purchased a reusable metal straw from his high school. Even he can figure out how to wash and reuse this item. If you must stop for snacks while on the road, bring your reusable straw with you. If you’re honest with yourself, chances are you have drank from the hose on a hot day, so a reusable straw is not going to kill you!

7.  Pick up trash. I ride my event horse down the road and on trails, and the saddest thing I see is trash everywhere. What are we doing as equestrians to help our environment? Pick up trash that may have blown out of a trash can, or that someone left on the road. Use it as a desensitizing tool — can you trail ride with a trash bag and pick up as you go? I guarantee you a Pony Club games champion could probably grab trash off the ground while still mounted, all at the gallop. Make it fun!

8.  For the love of all that’s holy — don’t litter. I can’t imagine that any self-respecting horse person with do such a thing. But you can also do your part if you see a piece of trash that has flown out of a trash bin — don’t just turn a blind eye. Pick up and know that you are doing your part to keep things beautiful for the next rider.

Earth Day is April 22, 2019, but we should do our part all year long. What other ideas do you have to help out the environment as horse people?

Amy Nelson and Hummingbird’s River. Photo courtesy of Amy Nelson.