We believe that animals are sentient beings, able to recognise and understand positive emotions such as kindness, compassion and empathy but also negative feelings such as anger, grief and loneliness.
At Mane Chance, we not only look after the physical wellbeing of our animals – daily health checks, regular hoof trimming and dental checks - plus we have the amazing support of a wonderful team of vets at Equivet - but our approach also extends to the emotional care of the horses.
Our holistic care regime works at the pace of each horse in their rehabilitation, catering for their individual needs. We give those that require it a balance of reiki and extra supplements as well as conventional care. Positive reward training and clicker training are proving to be effective teaching tools and for regaining trust and confidence in some of the horses.
Our different herds of horses are created according to the temperament and feeding management of their breed. For example, our herd of slightly more highly-strung thoroughbreds form strong friendships that bring out each other’s strengths and support each other’s’ sensitivities – they also benefit from additional feeds and supplements during the year and can enjoy a slightly less restricted access to grass as their metabolism is fast. Whereas our piebald cobs are more hardy and strong, laid back and playful but much more prone to obesity, so they are often on slightly lower quality grazing, allowing them to forage and devour less sugary grass!
Our horses all live out in our fields and tracks in herds, ranging from five to nine horses in each herd. This is a natural environment where they are able to express themselves and where they have use of field shelters or trees to shelter from sun or rain. Those that need it are rugged in cold weather, but all are allowed to grow their own thick, natural winter coats. They are barefoot (trimmed regularly) and they quite naturally create a herd dynamic in their group – some taking on the maternal or paternal role; others the more cheeky, carefree position lower down the pecking order!
When we have professional visits, our visiting vets, podiatrists and dentists complete their appointments out in a safe area that we create in the tracks and fields – we prefer not to take our horses out of their known environment to treat them, instead we work with them alongside their equine friends. We find that this reduces their stress levels and encourages co-operation which underpins their rehabilitation and trust of our team.
Although our horses live as natural lives as possible, because we ask them to work with us in the community and because we need to be able to care for them, we do very patiently teach them boundaries. Everything is based on the calm connection with the horse. Once that trust and bond is in place then work with clicker training and positive reward motivation can begin. Horses are naturally inquisitive and tend to get the hang of things very quickly when they feel safe and ‘listened’ to and we find that the work provides them with enrichment that is different from their herd antics and which they want to join in with. By building a relationship of mutual respect and co-operation, stronger and more trusting bonds develop between our horses and our team of staff and volunteers.
We believe passionately that horses and humans can benefit in equal measure in an atmosphere of trust and peace.
Our dream is to create a model at Mane Chance that can be replicated so that we help more horses and more people. Each decision that we make is a step closer to this dream, as we try and test options, learn from what we create and appreciate what we are becoming – a place of calm, optimism and healing – for two legs and four legs alike.