HP was recently in Belgium, where we noticed a line of skin care products called New Forest, made from horse milk. We love ponies, and we love natural skin care products, but we were a little taken aback at the combination of the two. Why should we be surprised? How is horse milk different from goat milk, which we have used as part of soaps and lotions before without a second thought? Perhaps it’s because we have a personal attachment to horses on an emotional level, which is different from how we feel about other livestock. (We hadn’t even considered horse milk as a beverage, but after researching we’ve learned that it’s lower in fat and calories than cow’s milk, and can be used to treat metabolic, gastrointestinal, and liver problems.)
Upon returning to the States, we were curious to learn more about the company and their herd of milk mares. Googling didn’t locate the company whose products we had seen in Belgium, but it did lead us to Spa Creek Ranch, located in Canada. Their horse milk production is a byproduct of their sport pony breeding operation: the family breeds New Forest ponies, which are hardy and gentle. The herds live naturally in pastures, on a diet of grass and pesticide-free home-grown hay. When babies are born, the foals get all the dam’s milk for the first 6 weeks, after which some of the milk is redirected for the skin care products. Mares produce enough milk to support two foals, and after the foals start eating grass they require less milk, so there’s plenty to go around. The mares are milked until the foals are weaned at 8 months; it’s an enjoyable process for them as they get attention and are rewarded with treats.
A small farm earns a little extra money by selling a natural product using a substance that was humanely obtained from happy animals: seems like a winning business model!