By Cara Sulieman
HORSES at an agricultural college caused a rift after they ruined prime farmland – so staff bought them a treadmill.
The 25 horses at Oatridge college were let loose on the estate and stampeded over the pasture land, much to the fury of the farming department.
Peter Scott, head of agriculture and farming at the college, was furious to see what they had done to his grass – and went to war with the equine department.
But now bosses at the college have purchased the treadmill in the hope that the two factions can get along better once it’s installed.
Peter explained that the horses have done a huge amount of damage to his farmland.
He said: “I admit I wasn’t happy when I saw the state of some of our best pastures. As we have quite a big equine unit it means we have to have a lot of these horses.
“A wet winter combined with putting them out to graze has the same result as putting 50 rugby players loose in a square metre.
“As far as farmers are concerned, horses are not productive and they just cause trouble and probably our farming students think exactly the same.
“We can have anything up to 35 horses at any one time so it’s a bit like taking out a massive tractor with a plough on the back.
“But this is a good way out of an awkward situation.”
And in order to foster good relations between the departments, Peter offered up a team of his students to construct the treadmill.
He said: “Actually, the solution have our farming students a great opportunity to tackle a practical and fairly complex project.
“The horse walker arrived without any instructions for putting it together, so it was a challenge. They’ve done a great job and learned a lot about the sort of tasks that farmers have to cope with.
“All that’s left to do is lay rubber flooring on the concrete base and the horses can stamp around to their heart’s content.”
The college, near Broxburn, is home to the National Equestrian Centre.
Equine team leader Sharon Anderson said: “This is an ideal solution to a difficult situation.
“Horses need to be exercised in all weathers and now we’ll be able to put them into the walker, flip a switch and give them a controlled amount of exercise.”
The college got the horse walker second hand from an equestrian centre in Lanarkshire at the bargain price of £5,000.
Six horses can fit inside the structure at any one time, and they are encouraged round the enclosure by a series of paddles that move round the circle at a set speed.
With a selection of speeds from walking to galloping, the trainers can choose to exercise the animals as much as they need.
They can even make the paddles go backwards, forcing the horses to turn around and introduce variation into their regime.
Although the structure is now in place, the students need to lay down rubber flooring to protect their hooves before they can allow the horses to use their new toy.
The treadmill will be up and running in the next few days, providing a secure and healthy workout for the animals.