Morag Higgins runs Equido Horsemanship Ltd, finalist for the Best Rural Skills Educator Award at the Scottish Rural Awards 2020. Equido offers students and their horses a unique perspective which encourages horses to trust people and people to communicate better with their horses.
What do you do on a typical day?
As with most jobs involving animals we have a fairly flexible approach to each day. We start at 6am (in the winter) with the horses being rugged and put out into their all weather turnout paddocks for the day. We have 22 horses with three or four in each paddock. At 7am the stables are mucked out, hay set up for the evening and yard swept. Yard duties are finished by 8am and then it is breakfast. At 8.45am the turnout paddocks are mucked out and fresh hay put in then at 9.15am feeds are made up and put out beside each stable. There is a short break at 9.30am then by 9.45am the first lessons for students in either groundwork or riding take place with their respective Instructors. By 10.45 the first session is finished and the students go to the training room for either a Lecture or free study time. At 11.45am the paddocks are skipped out and hayed once again. 12.00pm – 1.00pm is lunch time and then the second groundwork or riding session takes place. This finishes around 2.30pm and then there is a short break. 3pm is exam, lecture or study time till 4.00pm when the horses are brought back in, rugs changed and set to for the night. At 4.30pm the paddocks are mucked out again and hay put in ready for the morning. There is one night run at 8pm when all horses are checked, skipped out and hay topped up if necessary. This is the general daily routine, however things can change when there is a farrier visit or vet visit or an equine emergency.
What is your favourite part of your job?
I really enjoy working with the students either teaching, training horses or lecturing. I love to see how keen they are to learn the art of equestrianism and to continue the long tradition of working with horses.
What is unusual about your business?
We specialise in medical and psychological rehabilitation so students really get an in-depth education on medical treatments and dealing with remedial horses. This holds them in good stead as professional trainers.
What will you tell the world if you win this award?
I would be amazed and so very grateful if we won this award, I would tell the world how important it is to keep rural traditions alive, especially in our field of work (pardon the pun) where so often in sport the horse is seen as nothing more than a machine to make money. We teach that the horse is a working partner and must be respected as such, our rural traditions ensure that the young adults coming up understand this deep connection we have with our animals and the land and will continue to develop and add to this wealth of knowledge gathered over countless generations.
Equido have a charity division called Equido Charity SCIO where they provide equine assisted therapy which includes working with military personnel and other groups who may be recovering from physical and psychological injuries through the Personnel Recovery Centre based in Edinburgh. They also have qualifications and training for anyone who wishes to practice equine therapy and have courses running throughout the year.