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WBFSH General Assembly: An impressive memory


By Adriana van Tilburg

The German Sport Horse (DSP) were this year’s generous hosts of the WBFSH General Assembly in Dresden, locally well-organized by Heike Blessing-Maurer and Christian Kubitz, the latter being the breeding director and director of the Sachsen-Thüringen Studbook.

They were ably supported by Dr. Teresa Dohms-Warneke and Dr. Klaus Miesner from the FN (German Equestrian Federation) in Warendorf. I think it is safe to write that this city impressed everyone with its architecture, history, and its connection with the River Elbe that stretches for a grand 1,164 kilometres.
Attending the Assembly were 97 guests from 19 countries: Belgium, Canada, China, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Great-Britain, Ireland, Lithuania, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, and Sweden. The event opened with a welcome cocktail, and continued will full days of presentations that can be found on the WBFSH website. www.wbfsh.org.

Animal welfare and social license

The equestrian world is facing real challenges, a topic that was addressed by Dr. Henrike Lagershausen whose presentation focused on the German guidelines for the handling and use of horses from an animal welfare perspective, and the effects of starting training young horses. Who is Dr. Henrike Lagershausen and what is the story behind her presentation?

Q What is your position within the FN?
I am head of the department called Veterinary Medicine and Animal Welfare, so accordingly I am a veterinarian. We deal with all questions in the context of horses and veterinary medicine. This includes, for example, the prophylaxis of infectious diseases, vaccinations, medication controls, anti-doping, feeding, horse husbandry, etc., and we want to be available for help and advice to riders, barn managers, breeders, or vets.
Another very big topic that everyone refers to is animal welfare, which takes up a large part of our work. For example, we give advice how to proceed in the case of animal welfare offenses and, of course, we always figure out what we can do as an association to follow it up. The LPO is the German set of rules for national equestrian sport. We regularly question our rules and adjust them as necessary. In the development process I see it as my job to be the voice of the horse, to always go a little further and propose improvements. There is also convincing work to be done and which direction this should go. It’s about lobbying for the horse in any case.
What we do at the EU level, for example, is that we bring in our voice for the horse, the equestrian sport and the equine industry. Often the horse does not get enough attention next to other farm animals like pigs, cattle, poultry. This leads to the adoption of rules that do not address the specifics of horses and the horse industry. An example is the transport of animals: The transport of our sport and breeding horses that receive individual care and for whom transportation is very familiar, is not comparable to the transport of pigs to a slaughterhouse in a double-decker truck.

Q How did you become involved with the subject of your presentation?
Before I started working at the FN I was a working as a vet in practice, so I was of course already aware of the relevance of animal welfare. In fact, I learned the basic principles of equine welfare at home from a very young age. Horses need social contact with other horses and time for free movement every day, ideally on pasture. I was taught that we have to treat horses properly, that we need a lot of knowledge to understand them, and that the horse is never to blame... To read the complete article you need to be a subscriber