For Gabriela Quinn, her horses teach her something every single day and have opened her eyes to new possibilities while serving to inspire her imagination.
Quinn owns BlixxHorses of West Kennebunk and has dedicated her life to raising awareness about the proper care of horses, understanding the needs and behavior of horses, and the physical, emotional, time and financial constraints undertaken by those who adopt horses.
She recently joined about a Facebook page launched in the United Kingdom that’s an advocate for a non-ridden horse association. More than 10,000 individuals are following that social media page in just eight months of operation and it continues to grow and draw interest worldwide.
“Through the association, we have an opportunity to address issues,” Quinn said. “It boils down to people taking responsibility for what they do. They don’t put riding first, they put the horses first.”
Quinn’s own two horses, Fritz, 22, and Lexxie, 17, have never been ridden and are part of her effort to better inform and educate the public about horses. As a nonprofit advocacy group, BlixxHorses travels for presentations to various organizations and groups and offers programs at its West Kennebunk stables and facility.
“I’ve been trying to talk and explain about why horses should not be ridden,” Quinn said. “Horses are not designed to carry weight. If the public is not told this, how can they make good decisions?”
According to Quinn, finding an international connection to the non-ridden movement was a revelation and a blessing.
“I know I’m not the only one who feels this way,” she said. “It’s an amazing group to be associated with.”
Victoria Yates and her husband live in Coventry, England, and founded the Non Ridden Equine Facebook group on May 4, 2017, because they own a non-ridden horse named Kez.
“I am a horsemanship practitioner, so I also see a lot of the issues regarding non-ridden equines and the pressures people face who choose not to ride. Non-ridden equines are seen to have little or no value, they are the most disadvantaged, most at risk of neglect, abuse and abandonment,” Yates said. “We have an overbreeding crisis in the UK along with many sports/leisure equines once they can no longer be ridden being passed round the system from pillar to post often with the truth hidden.”
She says that throughout the world, people who choose not to ride their horses are often criticized and ridiculed.
“Not much is provided for people who own non-ridden equines or choose not to ride, mostly the equine industry is geared toward riding,” Yates said. “Many feel isolated, marginalized and don’t feel included if they have a non-ridden equine.”
The success of the Facebook page led Yates and her husband Steve to launch the non-profit Non Ridden Equine Association in the UK in August 2017, along with a website which provides free global access to resources about horses.
“It has links to experts and aims in 2018 to host a Non Ridden Equine Showcase event,” Yates said. “This will be to showcase good practice and provide people with ideas to take away and do with their own equines. We are also seeking funding to bring together the equine industry and various professionals for a conference to explore how to work in collaboration. The association is a collective of voices from professionals to novices.”
She said part of the growing movement is the formation of local groups, including one started by Quinn for the New England area.
“The passion, dedication and commitment from our members is massively powerful and inspirational,” Yates said. “It is collective of these voices that will enable change to happen.”
Quinn said she hopes the Non Ridden Equine New England Facebook page will help spread the word and provide useful information about the association.
“We all have common ground as horse owners to be committed to our animals,” Quinn said. “The best thing for horses is security. I also want the public to know that there are many issues and problems within the horse community we hope that the association will be able to address and remedy.”
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