10 ways equestrians can help improve animal welfare
As a collective of horse-lovers, a nation of animal lovers, this is a sensitive subject. Rarely a day goes by when we don't see a video on Facebook or a mainstream news article reporting the most heinous of acts against animals in the UK and worldwide. The issue of animal welfare covers everything from domestic pet neglect, to the way that animals are caged in zoos, to the way that they are poached on African plains to the way they are used to test products that you and I buy every. single. day.
Where do we start? What are the things we can do as equestrians that can make a difference? We've suggested 10 ways that animal-lovers can make a stand and positively improve animal welfare TODAY...
1. Buy your horse care from cruelty-free brands
Of all the products in your life, it would be fair to assume that your pet care would be among the most animal friendly. This is sadly not so. Pet product producers (particularly those that sell in China) are still using horribly invasive procedures to test ingredients and final product on animals worldwide.
Luckily in the UK there are lots of cruelty-free options you can choose from. We're proud to stock only cruelty-free brands here at Honest Riders, so you can feel confident when you buy horse care from us.
2. Buy your make-up from cruelty-free brands
This is a biggie. The extent to which cosmetics are tested on animals is baffling in this day and age, yet it still goes on. Cruelty Free International reports that animal experiments are sadly not in decline, and in many parts of the world are on the increase (e.g. China) or remain at the same level as they were in the 1980s or 1990s (e.g. the UK, Europe).
If this is an issue you care about, the first step is to make sure that none of the brands you use are sold in China. They are the only country that requires, by law, for all cosmetics to be tested on animals. Even if they don't test on animals themselves (and this is the key loophole!), in order to sell in China, brands must pay for their products to undergo third-party tests on animals (yes you Mac, Bobbi Brown, Avon, Benefit, Estee Lauder, Mabelline...).
Luckily in the UK, there are now hundreds of brands that choose not to sell in China and do not test their product or ingredients on animals. If you're starting out on your cruelty-free journey, try signing up to The Cruelty Free Beauty Box for a few months. These guys fill their boxes with some incredible make-up, hair and skincare brands, often in sample sizes so that you can 'try before you buy'. Their website also hosts hundreds of cruelty-free alternatives that you can buy in confidence.
The Cruelty Free Beauty Box have collaborated with us to offer Honest Riders customers a 15% discount off your first order when you use the code 'HONESTRIDERS15' at checkout.
This is such a broad topic and one that our founder Zoe has researched extensively over the years, so we'll do a blog post dedicated just to this topic very soon!
3. Buy your personal care from cruelty-free brands
It's personal care too - face moisturisers, body lotion, perfume, shampoo, fake tan... As a rule of thumb, if you can find the above on the supermarket shelves, chances are it's being sold by a brand that tests on animals. If you're looking to eliminate animal testing from your personal care products, start one-by-one. Each time a product runs out, replace it with a cruelty-free brand.
We really love Upcircle for the most incredible body and face scrubs, take a look at Evolve skincare and Skinny Tan. There are hundreds more! Check out The Cruelty Free Box's skincare range as a great place to start...
4. Buy your cleaning products from cruelty-free brands
Yes folks, that Fairy Liquid you've got in your kitchen has been tested on animals. If you're a Mrs.Hinch fan (aren't we all?!) and animal testing bothers you, just check out the products she uses carefully before embracing them into your own home...
Luckily, buying cruelty-free household products is not as difficult as other categories can be. Method cleaning products are widely available in supermarkets, smell incredible and have the added bonus of being free from chemicals that are toxic to marine life. We really love Smol's clothes wash and dishwash tabs, which are delivered straight to your door and are not only cruelty-free but also use fewer synthetic chemicals than conventional products. If reducing waste is also your thing, check out what the wonderful people over at Fill are up to.
5. Choose natural products to use on your pets
We made the decision at Honest Riders to only stock horse care that is free from harsh synthetic chemicals. There are several reasons for this, not least because selfishly, the chemicals we use on our pets usually end up on our own hands too!
It's not always possible to go 100% natural, but we're getting as close as we possibly can. Check out our product descriptions where we disclose if a product is not made from natural ingredients.
The concern about using parabens, phosphates, sulphates, petrochemicals and PEG's on our own and our animals skin is well documented (we wrote a blog dedicated to it here). We and our suppliers truly believe that natures own chemicals are as, if not more, effective at cleaning, healing, shining, repelling, than man-made, often toxic ingredients. Having tried and tested every single product we sell on our own horses, we can confirm that they are indeed just as good!
Next time you need to buy something new for your horse, why not give natural a try?
6. Donate £5 a month to an animal-welfare charity
This is probably one of the easiest contributions you can make to animal welfare. There are hundreds of worthy causes in the UK and overseas - our advice would be to support those closest to your heart. It's not just the traditional monthly donation that can make a difference though - one of the changes we can recommend is buying your Christmas cards and wrapping from a charity. One of our supported charities World Horse Welfare have their own shop, selling fantastic cards and gifts.
Alternatively, you could achieve your £5 donation by buying one of our fabulous sweatshirts, just saying....;-)
7. Sign up to Amazon Smile
If you're an Amazon regular then AmazonSmile is a simple and automatic way for you to support a charity of your choice every time you shop, at no cost to you. Just head to Amazon Smile, select the charity you want to support and voila! Easy Peasy.
8. Adopt your next four-legged friend from a rescue charity
According to Dogs Trust UK, 130,000 dogs end up looking for new homes every year. World Horse Welfare reports that they investigate over 2,000 cases of equine neglect every year and the RSPCA states that cats are the most rescued animal by their team who receive hundreds of thousands of calls about their welfare each year.
That's just the UK. Anyone who's been to Spain or Cyprus will have seen the heartbreaking extent of the stray problem over there.
Adopting your next pet is possibly one of the most rewarding ways you can literally save a life. Contrary to popular belief, adopting a pet does not necessarily mean compromising on breed (most dog breeds now have their own rescue charities, for example) or temperament. Just be really clear on what type of pet would suit your lifestyle and experience before you start looking. Most rescue centres are incredibly knowledgeable and can find you a perfect four-legged match!
If you are a fan of the scruffier four-legged kind, be sure to check out Balkan Underdogs. Both of our founder Zoe's rescue dogs came from this incredible charity.
9. Plant some flowers around the yard
The bees will love you for it. Did you know that one-third of the UK's bee population has disappeared over the past decade and 24 per cent of Europe's bumblebees are now threatened with extinction. Given that bees pollenate around a third of our food crop, the implications of their demise are alarming.
Perennial flowers, like salvia, any of the mints, coneflowers and daisies, are very good for bees and some of them are frost-resistant, so they will continue flowering through late September and October, which in turn will make your yard look very, very pretty. Win/win!
10. Go fur free
It's a pretty controversial one this. Since the 80's when supermodels the world over would 'rather go naked than wear fur', the industry seems to have had a resurgence with China reportedly farming over 60 million mink for their coats in 2015 (according to the Humane Society UK).
Whilst real fur can claim far greater green credentials than fake, being a natural, renewable, biodegradable resource, the issue comes from the way that it is farmed. Animals bred for their fur such as foxes, rabbits, raccoon dogs and mink are confined in small, barren, wire cages for their entire lives. When their pelts are at their prime, before they are one year old, the animals are gassed, electrocuted, beaten or have their necks broken.
Whilst 'real' fur should be pretty easy to avoid, beware of products marketed as being made from 'faux' fur too. House of Fraser and TK Maxx recently came under fire for selling goods that were in fact made from farmed mink and fox in China.
Check your labels and do your research before buying products that appear to feature any kind of fur.