Jane Myers www.equiculture.com.au Sandy Pate National Landcare Facilitator http://sustainableagricultureperth.targeton.com/ 18 What Horse Owners Think An overview of the survey report presented by Dr Kirrilly Thompson.
The full “Climate Change for Horse Owners Horse Keeping in Our Community” report can be found on www.horseslandwater.com Horse keepers were surveyed in an attempt to identify horse keepers’ attitudes, practices and knowledge in relation to meeting climate change challenges 1.
If and how horse keepers have been impacted by any major climate/weather events in the past 1020 years 2.
What action was taken by horse keepers in response to any weather or climate events a.
At the time b.
For the longer term 3.
What action horse keepers have been considering taking in the short or long term 4.
What barriers have prevented those actions 5.
What horse owner education, research, government policy or other help is needed by horse keepers The survey was made available online and promoted in early 2012.
It consisted of 3 demographic questions and 6 open-ended questions.
The survey was completed by 69 horse-keepers.
This report communicates the views, experiences, opinions and beliefs of those horse-keepers in an accessible format.
In the pages that follow, each question is presented in turn.
Questions are discussed, findings are demonstrated in graphs and the scope of each category described in coding tables.
The overall significance of findings is discussed in relation to the original research aims and survey questions.
Overall, the majority of participants have faced major weather and climate events in the past 10-20 years, although not all of these events have been disadvantageous.
Participants have responded at the time of events and taken steps to prepare for medium and long term benefit.
The major setbacks to their preparation have been the ‘usual suspects’ of time and money.
However, there is a desire for more education, research and policy to support the interconnected areas of: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8.
Land care, pasture management and improvement Biosecurity Property maintenance Water management Access Safety Planning & development Horse health & welfare The fact that participants had already taken the initiative to seek information and take advantage of education opportunities suggests that well designed public education and behaviour change initiatives are likely to be well supported and effective. 19 What Horse Owners Think Dr Kirrilly Thompson Question 1: Please describe what, if any, major weather/climate event(s) have impacted on you, in a negative or positive way, in the last 10-20 yrs? The aim of Question 1 was to find out what weather or climate events had affected participants in the past 10-20 years whilst allowing for the collection of positive and negative experiences.
Participants recalled the ‘big four’ natural disasters of fire, flood, cyclone and drought.
Drought and rainfall were the most frequently cited events. 36% of respondents indicated that they had been affected by drought while 36% reported being affected by rainfall.
This included too much as well as too little rainfall or unseasonable rain.
In relation to flood, both positive and negative impacts were recognised (improved pasture and erosion).
Separate from the issue of flood, the topic of water arose in relation to a reduction in quantity and quality of water supplies, especially for those using groundwater (10%).
There were also sufficient responses around ‘rainfall’ (36%) to warrant a category separate from ‘general seasonal abnormality’.
Participants linked high and low rainfall with land management issues (weeds) and horse health issues (mosquitoes).
Some respondents cited erosion (4%) and weed infestation (9%) in response to this question, referring to the impact of weather and climate and an awareness of some of their associated land management implications.
Finally, 10% of participants were satisfied with that their climate and weather conditions and others answered ‘none’.
Whether this is an indication of ‘no impacts’ or a disbelief in climate change is unclear, although no extended comments were made to suggest the latter.
The categories of ‘none’ (10%) and ‘good weather’ (1%) provide an important temperance to the bias towards negative impressions of climate Question 2: Please describe what, if anything, you did to take advantage of the major weather/climate event(s) at the time it occurred? The aim of Question 2 was to find out what action participants took at the time of the major weather or climate event that was listed in the previous question. 22% of respondents reported taking no action.
Reasons outlined in the coding structure included seeing no advantage in taking action, not feeling at risk of major weather/climate events, seeing no need and being fatalistic about events occurring. 16% of responses were accorded to the category ‘Land care, pasture management and improvement’.
Responses coalesced around improving pasture growth and implementing land care strategies such as tree planting.
This included minimising the impact of horses on land care by keeping horses away from wet paddocks.
In responses to the previous question, participants linked drought with increased feed prices. 9% of responses to Question 2 were strategies to keep feed costs down such as storing hay and pre-purchasing in 20 — • Property management Sand in stables to reduce wet ground • Improved fencing With gov’t funding 8.
Reduced numbers of horses • Reduced breeding activity Question 3: What did you do to take advantage of the major weather/climate event(s) for the longer term? The aim of Question 3 was to identify the actions taken by participants in response to the major weather/climate events listed in response to Question 1.
Whereas Question 2 asked about immediate action taken following an event, Question 3 sough to identify changes made for the longer term. 20% of participants reported taking no action for the longer term.
Some saw no advantage in taking action and others were fatalistic about events occurring.
A large number of people agisting did not feel that they had any ability to take or influence actions to take advantage of major weather/climate events for the longer term.
This may represent a significant opportunity for behaviour change if agistees can be supported to effectively influence agisters to improve their planning and response to climate and weather events.
Changes made to Land care, pasture management and improvement in the longer term were similar to those reported in the previous question about reactions at the time of the weather/climate events (14%).
This was the same for water management strategies, with the exception that sinking a bore was only mentioned in relation to longer term strategies (14%). 22 What Horse Owners Think Dr Kirrilly Thompson Question 3 received similar responses around fodder and feeding practices (10%).
Whereas responses around immediate behaviour changes in the previous question included using more than one feed supplier, responses around longer term changes involved changing feed suppliers altogether.
One addition to the scope of this category in this question was horse keepers saying that they had changed their horse’s feeds to include more electrolytes.
Fencing was again mentioned in relation to infrastructure improvements (4%), together with more substantial investments including a solar powered windmill.
Two categories arose in relation to Question 3 that were not mentioned in the short-term/immediate responses elicited by Question 2.
These included diversification of services (the nature of which was unspecified by the participant) (1%) and education (4%). 4% of participants had sought more education through formal information events or their own personal research.
Whether or not this suggests that horse keepers did not seek information at the time of the event (ie the short term) or they saw education as being of longer term benefit remains to be discerned.
Again, some drastic responses to climate/weather events were seen in relation to reducing the number of horses on a property (3%) or relocating horses pre-emptively (3%).
Emergency planning in the form of developing a bushfire plan emerged as a response to this question (3%). 1% of participants had changed their riding practices to reduce riding in times of heat (1%). 1% 1% 3% 3% 3% 4% 4% 10% 14% 14% 20% 0% 5% 10% 15% 20% 25% Riding Diversification Relocated Reduced horses Emergency Planning Infrastructure Education Feeding & Fodder Land Care Water No action Figure 2: What did you do to take advantage of the major weather/climate event(s) for the longer term? 23 What Horse Owners Think Dr Kirrilly Thompson Responses to Question 3 were allocated to the following 11 categories.
Examples of the spread of response within each category are also provided: No acti None • No advantage/did nothing • Difficult when agisting • Fatalistic eg.
Fact of life so didn’t do anything are, pasture management and improvement • Cleaned paddocks • Improved paddock rotation and resting practices, restricted horse grazing • Changed pasture type Eg ‘sow more perennials’ • Treating weeds • Revegetation • Planted trees • Changed garden to natives • Planting windbreaks Action Attended information event Personal research Contingency planning Developed a bushfire plan Moved horses in anticipation of unfavourable paddock conditions Changed Riding practices Reduced riding during heat Water management • Improved water storage • Increased number of rainwater tanks • Building a dam • Sinking a bore Fodder & Feeding practices • Hay storage and pre-purchase • Changed feed supplier • Feed more electrolytes — The aim of Question 6 was to identify assistance that participants desired in relation to horse owner education, research, government policy or other.
Responses were categorised according to the topic around which they required further assistance.
Where participants specifically noted ‘education’, their comments were coded to the category ‘education’ as well as the relevant topic category.
The largest response category for this question is the 26% of participants who desired support for ‘land care, pasture management and improvement’.
This high number is not surprising, given the prevalence of the category in response to questions about what immediate, medium and long term action that participants have taken (Questions 2 and 3), as well as something they are considering for the long term (Question 4).
Participants expressed a desire for support and advice on general property management issues, as well as advice specific to their region and requirements.
One participant suggested “a tax rebate for irrigation/planting of pastures”, which intersects with the ‘money’ category above.
Horse health and welfare was discussed in 22% of responses to Question 6.
Participants called for legislation to protect the welfare of horses by according increased powers to animal welfare organisations.
Over-rugging was mentioned again in this question, as was knowledge around riding in heat conditions.
The impact of ‘equitation science’ showed in calls for a greater understanding of horse psychology and further research in the topic.
Participants also called for research on diseases, singling out Hendra as a priority topic.
One participant articulated the link between climate change and horse health as follows: “Increased research on potential diseases as a result of a changing climate – including non-direct effects such as the Hendra Virus”.
The low overall reference to Hendra in the survey overall may be related to the bias of 28 participants from Western Australia and South Australia (total of 68%) as Hendra has only affected horses in Queensland and New South Wales. What Horse Owners Think Dr Kirrilly Thompson 10% of participants called for more education.
In relation to the scope examples provided below, calls for education were not always made on behalf of the participant.
Often they were made by the participant on behalf of the wider community – especially where they felt there was a lack of general knowledge. 7% of participants stated that they did not require any assistance. 7% participants called for more support around emergency planning with a focus on fires.
This is interesting given the relative recency of floods over fires in Australia.
However, fires may be perceived as a more routine threat in Australia than floods or cyclones.
Whilst money and funding were anticipated responses only 6% of participants mentioned money as something that they needed in relation to horse keeping.
This may be because the wording of the question directed participants’ thoughts to other non-financial sources of help.
In relation to ‘biosecurity’ (10%), one participant asked for ‘Governmental grants to give financial relief for the cost of enforced quarantine”.
As with responses to previous questions, some participants required support around ‘property maintenance’ (1%) and ‘water management’ (4%).
The issue of access to trails and parks arose in response to this question (1%).
It intersected the category of ‘Safety’ in relation to keeping horses off of roads (1%).
In the category of ‘Safety’, however, the issue of mixed use of trails and parks by horses and motorbikes was put forward as a safety concern.
Moreover, the issue of safety overlaps with the category ‘planning and development’ (4%) in relation to peri-urban development.
Many participants felt that local councils did not include horses in their policy and planning.
Whilst some participants called for more inclusion of horses in policy and so on, 4% of respondents wanted increased autonomy from the local government.
In addition to discussing support they required, participants offered information about what they have already done.
These comments were easily translated into the two categories of information and education.
Education was distinguished from information as a formal course or event, whereas information was that which was accessed by the participant at their leisure.
In relation to the latter, Jane Myers’ publications and research on managing horse properties were mentioned twice in the survey.
It is interesting to note that this kind of additional detail around information and education did not emerge from the two questions asking what action had been taken in the short and medium/long term.
There was a broad array of responses to Question 6, resulting in the following 13 categories: Figure 5: What horse owner education, research, government policy or other help do you need in relation to horse keeping and weather/climate aspects? 29 1% 1% 1% 4% 4% 4% 6% 7% 7% 10% 10% 22% 26% Safety Access Property Maintenance Water Planning & development Autonomy Money 0% 5% 10% 15% — Biggest knowledge gap is in the education side of things Younger generation is the future Gap between the generations People at pony club just getting horses (new entrants) Pony Club – riders without horses could help Promotion & Marketing • • • • • • • • • • Where can you go to get a list of resources and information Real need for support time money resources Knowledge gap/information gap getting info out to other horse owners Getting to the broader industry Horse health is a good way of getting to people Info from today needs to get out Focus farms, demo sites, local workshops Horse SA can identify key focus farms in different climatic zones Taps into existing groups Pony clubs to get info out What Business Opportunities Might Exist? • • • • • • • • • • • • • Horse minded agronomists Local knowledge respected Native grass production Local species and where to collect Development of horse friendly confinement systems to suit Australian conditions including shade in summer Experts in native pastures for horses Opportunity to link into corporate but ties into statistical framework Ethical investment Need for rehoming and retraining of ex harness racing horses – business opportunity Cost of retraining is higher /same as buying a new horse Analysis of materials eg water, soil and hay need to be easier.
Batch orders can be a cheaper quote and could be some business opportunities or Horse SA to coordinate More advisors- specifically for weed management/toxic plants for horses/ virus and small property managers eg have machinery to go onto small farms and do weed control etc Opportunities for pest controllers to control insect spread Workshop Participant Viewpoint 35 Helping Build Capacity • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • Case studies Case studies, need to be information infused – horse owners by horse owners and applied researchers DAFF Action on the Ground to support producers to mitigate carbon emissions Community Action Grants coming out soon.
State money for various projects Industries that use consultants go ahead quicker Not a lot of data in the horse industry Statistical data collection is required about trends Corporate stats – and funding to attract Needs facts to show trends down or any direction National database/ national Microchipping National data collection is important but everyone has to put in Viticulture put in crop watch/ as a model is there Is there scope for research in disease notification/ needs to be funded by RIRDC or collective pools of major parts of industry Microchipping important for life data Industry resistance to change to Microchipping.
Hendra vaccine could be the carrot Alerts for other diseases along crop watch lines eg high sugars in grasses/health alerts Crop watch has predictive tool built in eg to ID A way to collect data and a way to hook horse owners in is horse health and add economic impact Observations & General Comments • • • • • • Maybe one thing that does bring all the horse groups together is climate change as all will get higher feed prices, harder to get horses as breeding down.
Strong industry lobbying group helps The fact that all are here today from different groups speaks mountains from lobbying Try to get out the positive messages of climate change/adaptations not negative.
If we do the right things we can have a healthy and sustainable industries Goyder’s line – the line does shift with seasonal variability related 350mm rainfall For horse owners by horse owners to be accepted and respected Workshop Top Five 36 The Horses & Climate Impact Workshop participants were asked to prioritise the top five things to work on.
This was undertaken as a group discussion. 1.
Statistics: National database for the horse industry • • Useful for horse health alerts Develop an industry economic profile 2.
Education: Information & education available in relation to Horses, Climate Change & Adaptation • • • Relate it to horse health Intergenerational information sharing Mentoring 3.
Promote a Holistic approach to horse care
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