Q&A with Stuart Myers: Equiculture

As well as being interested in natural horse health, I also consider myself an environmentalist. I’m always searching for ways I can reduce any negative impact on the Earth. So naturally, my interest was piqued when I came across Stuart and Jane Myers’ website, entitled Equiculture. In this Q&A, Stuart tells us about the horse keeping system he and his wife developed and shares tips for sustainable horse keeping practices.

 

1.) Can you tell us a bit about how you became interested in sustainable horse keeping practices?

When we emigrated from the UK to Australia 23 years ago, as soon as possible we bought our own land for our horses and realised that the land appeared much more fragile than we were used to in the UK. We have since realised that most land anywhere horses are kept is often under stress but some areas are better able to cope with it than others.

We soon realised if we were to give our horses a positive environment to live in, with good pasture we needed to change our practices. This led to us reading and researching different land management theories and trying things out for ourselves. It’s safe to say we made several mistakes along the way. The one defining ‘lightbulb’ moment was when we realised that many of the things we were doing went against what nature, and just as importantly the horse was trying to do.

For example the horses often hang around gateways waiting to be brought in to be fed. Gateways are often bare/dusty/muddy because of this hanging around behaviour. By leaving the gate open and allowing the horses to bring themselves back in, all this erosion around the gateway goes away and there is less work for us to do. You cannot have healthy horses without healthy pasture, and you can’t have healthy pasture without healthy soil. The more we learnt the more we realised everything was connected and by improving one thing it leads to numerous other benefits.

horses at gate2

This lead us to writing a book which in turn lead us to running presentations around the world, which in turn gave us more knowledge which lead to us writing more books….and as they say, the rest is history.

 

2.) What are the basic concepts behind ‘equiculture’ and the ‘equi-central system’?

I guess Equiculture, which is a word we made up over 20 years ago, is best served up by our acronym H.O.R.S.E. Horse Ownership, Responsible, Sustainable, Ethical.

The Equicentral system is a horse and land  management system we have developed over the years which uses the natural and domesticated behaviour of horses, combined with good land management practices, to create a healthy and sustainable environment for your horses and your property.

When you look at how the role and lifestyle of our horses has changed dramatically particularly in the past 50 years or so but our management practices haven’t really changed for hundreds of years, then we need a system that reflects the needs and issues of modern horse keeping.
horse pasture layout
At first glance it looks like just a way of laying out your property, but just as important is an understanding of what is happening on your land. Trying to keep horses as part of the environment not just living on it. This combined with a philosophy of improvement, not just maintenance but always trying to make things even better, the aim should be always looking at ways of improving what you do now, improving the health of the soil and so forth.

 

3.) How do horses benefit from the equi-central system?

In so many ways, as I said earlier, healthy land =healthy pasture=healthy horses. We encourage keeping horses together so their basic needs are met, the so called 3 F’s, Forage Friendships and Freedom.

 

Everything about horsekeeping is about compromise but we believe that the Equicentral System offers the best combination of compromises that benefits not only the horse but has huge benefits for the land and the environment and saves the owner time, money and effort.

 

4.) In your opinion, what are some of the most environmentally-damaging horse keeping practices which people may not be aware of?

Most horse owners overgraze their land leading to land degredation, bare and compacted unhealthy soils. What needs to be understood is how a few simple changes can really start to turn things around.

 

 

5.) If horse owners could only change one thing about the way they manage their horses, what would you suggest it be?

We talk about owners becoming ‘Grass Farmers’, that is starting to learn about what is happening in their pasture and trying to create a healthy ‘grass farm’ which turns into a real win-win win scenario for the horses the land and the owner. Learning to rest and rotate their pasture is one simple thing that can be done and the best investment they can make on a property is to have somewhere, an all weather surface that the horses can be on when the conditions in the pasture would lead to more degradation.

horse-108441_640

 

6.) What types of topics do you cover in your workshops?

The workshop is a full day crammed with information. People often attend several times as there is so much to take in. We cover many topics such as horse characteristics including grazing and dunging behavior, the digestive system of the horse, pasture management and improvement, grass characteristics and its relationship with the horse, grazing systems, manure management, dung beetles, water management, trees bushes and weeds on a horse property, current research into equine obesity and its prevention and finally bringing it all together with an explanation of the Equicentral System itself.

 

7.) Anything else you’d like to add?

 Horses and their owners are often considered as bad for the land. In fact there are many areas where legislation against horse ownership is being considered due to the irresponsible practices employed by some horse owners. We feel that will just a little knowledge the equine community can quickly turn this image around and can actually be seen as an asset in terms of biodiversity.

 

For more information have a look at our website www.equiculture.com.au and on Facebook, Healthy Pasture Healthy Horses and finally the Equiculture Equicentral group page.

Casie

Hi! My name is Casie Bazay. I'm a mom, a freelance writer, and a certified equine acupressure practitioner.

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *