Caring vs Spoiling

We have the vet, physiotherapist, dentist, farrier, feed supplier, saddle fitter, rug company, additive provider, psychic….. well, maybe that’s a step too far but where is the line between caring and spoiling? I have always tried to give my horses the best possible lives and will always do that. However, None of us have an unlimited budget and so compromises have to be made sometimes. Care is not something to compromise on though. My question is where does care stop and spoiling begin?

To spoil means “to damage severely or harm, especially with reference to its excellence, value, usefulness.” In which case, quite simply I don’t think you can ever spoil a horse by looking after them or giving them care. Yes, my horses have more shoes than I do, a better diet than I do, a more complete wardrobe than I do but that still isn’t spoiling. Am I wrong?

Saying a horse is spoilt is just a negative slur and the horse world is never short of one of those. In future, if this is said to you then take it as a positive, you are doing more to care for your horse than the other person would and that is never a bad thing.

I think training is the only area we can go into spoiling a horse negatively. Getting a Physio out to a companion pony or feeding turmeric to your old pony is not spoiling, it is caring.

Pie has a new companion pony just arrive: Shylo, a 25 year old little welsh pony who was previously a cradles stakes legend and now is ready for a quiet retirement. I like to think that Pie and Shylo can discuss their past victories! So, Kelly created a list of what he needed as a starting point, a bit of a general check up: vet check, equine dental technician, Physiotherapist, worm count, farrier/trimming, rugs, feed helpline discussion. Is there anything you would add?

As this topic has got me focused so much on care, I am going to start a series of videos about care; speaking to the best care givers I know and finding out what we can do to care better and what their expert knowledge can add. Next week, Jack has the Physio out which will be part one. Let me know if there are people you would suggest as good interview subjects on great care. What shall I call the series? “How to spoil your horse brilliantly” perhaps?

Brilliantly spoilt pony Pie at 23 years young

Picture of the brilliantly spoilt American Pie. Looking good at 23 years young.

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  1. I think “spoiling” is letting your horse/pony get away with bad behaviour and overindulging and not addressing the issues. Caring for your horse is just that and as they can’t go along to the tack shop themselves and choose a Gorgeous rug we have to do,it for them ?? xx

  2. I too have a companion horse (a draft) who has awful ringbone. He won’t be ridden again, but his job is to put up with my diva of a mare and he does it exceptionally well (it isn’t a job a lot of horses would want!). Is he spoilt? Well he gets the best supplements, regular supplies of danilon and anything else the vet thinks he needs, his teeth are done, his feet trimmed to schedule and the physio eases his stiff bits whenever he needs it. He does also get a plentiful supply of carrots, apples, swedes and any other treats he can beg from passers by! The latter is probably spoiling him, but for an ex-logging horse who has had a hard life I’m glad I can spoil him. I’m brutally aware that his remaining time on this planet will be short and I’m also aware that a lot of people would turf him into a field and forget about him, but I think if you take on a horse – whether a hairy arthritic Ardennes, or a GP schoolmaster – then you owe them the very best of care. It is expensive, but if you can’t afford it then don’t have them.

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