By Nadine Brandtner
Photography: Courtesy WHW
Editor’s introduction: Although this article deviates from our normal practice of exclusively publishing breeding-specific content, the World Horse Welfare Conference 2019 embraces a topic that’s close to the hearts of everyone who plays any role within the global equestrian industry, and poses a fundamental and vital question: ‘Who is responsible?’.
The conference opened with a short but emotionally powerful film, which highlighted that the love that man has for the horse as a companion, working equid, athlete comes with responsibility for its well-being. Sadly, there has been a rising trend in welfare concerns worldwide, often for horses in large groups. Equine welfare charities alongside other agencies are striving to address the welfare concerns and causes. Collaboration between organisations and NGOs, as well as working at parliamentary level is vital. The OIE (World Organisation for Animal Health), UN (United Nations) and FAO (Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations) all have working animals on their agenda. The International Coalition of Working Equids (ICWE) is working with the OIE to provide training to support national government initiatives to help make these welfare standards a reality around the world.
But at the level of the general public, their role as the eyes and ears of the equine charity world is important, for they take responsibility when identifying and reporting equine and other animal welfare concerns. Developing a new generation of responsible horse owners is vital. The media and social media can have a significant, positive influence on this, as can celebrity role models, to educate and support promotion of the correct way to treat and care for horses.
Communication is key to ensuring responsibility. WHW has been working to develop ways to engage hard-to-reach communities, as well as gaining an understanding of the mental health issues around animal hoarding. The wider horse-owning community also has a responsibility for ensuring horse welfare. With the outbreaks of equine influenza, responsible show organisers and horse events have rightfully banned horses that have not been properly vaccinated... To read the complete article you need to be a subscriber
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