An invitation to join a new group on the social network LinkedIn last week immediately stimulated my mind. While sustainability is something that I studied in graduate school and is something that I practice on my farm and that is now something I ponder daily in our logging business, for some reason it had never occurred to me to formalize my thinking in the equestrian realm. Yet as soon as I saw the group name, I immediately began compiling two lists: topics that I feel strongly must be part of the conversation and conundrums I am currently dealing with.
As the convener of the LinkedIn group suggested in her opening post, natural horsemanship and natural/organic feeds are no-brainers: they are so obviously a part of sustainable equestrianism as to not merit much discussion, at least in my mind. And I also agree with her sentiment that ‘green’ isn’t the same as ‘sustainable,’ though she did end up naming her group ‘Green Equestrianism.’ I also appreciate that the convener, who resides in Germany, has been generous with her use of the English language, as the discussion would be out of my realm immediately if it were conducted in German.
Here is my list of topics that I feel must be part of the sustainability conversation (you can find more information about each one by clicking on them):
- Breeding practices and horse overpopulation
- Parasite resistance and deworming
- Holistic health care
- Hoof care/bare foot trimming
- Utilization of natural horsepower for farm chores
And here are the conundrums that I’m dealing with right now:
- End-of-life (euthanasia, carcass disposal)
- Chemical wormer impacts on compost quality
- Management and utilization of compost
While I have worked in the public (government) sector and the non-profit (specifically the environmental) sector, I have spent the majority of my working life in the private sector. Ten years in a large high-tech firm gave me a tremendous education about how big businesses work. And now fourteen years with my farm and concurrently ten years in our logging company have taught me about micro-enterprises. In order to simplify my thinking about sustainability in the for-profit world, I have come to agree with the concept of a triple bottom line: economic, ecologic, and social. It is only by looking at all three legs of the stool, in my opinion, that sustainability can be honestly discussed, especially in a capitalist economy. Rarely is there any single right answer to any particular sustainability question because every business and indeed every person comes to their own triple bottom line uniquely.
I am very hopeful that conversations on the new Green Equestrianism group bear abundant fruit. I am already thankful for how it has stimulated my own thinking. I will be adding a category to my blog and a page to my website on the topic!
© Jenifer Morrissey, 2012