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EEF webinar: Protecting horse welfare at home

Tuesday, 16 April 2024

“The standard you walk past is the standard you accept," Roly Owers – the Chief Executive of World Horse Welfare – highlighted during an EEF panel discussion on Monday.

Organised by the European Equestrian Federation (EEF), a panel consisting of Owers, Jackie Potts (founding member of the International Grooms Association), Constanze Winter (General Counsel at the German Equestrian Federation), Johan Fyrberg (Secretary General of the Swedish Equestrian Federation), and Ulf Bromster (EEF Sustainability lead) gathered online on Monday to discuss the challenges of protecting horse welfare at home. 

Prior to the discussion, EEF had conducted a survey to gather insights and experiences on the specific issue of training methods applied at home. 5332 people completed the entire survey, with 39.5% identifying as national riders, 26% as national owners and 15% as those involved in FEI competition. Asked about their level of concern for horse welfare at home, 36.26% reported being 'often concerned', 29.83% 'sometimes concerned' and 23.82% 'always concerned'. 

In the survey, money, pressure from competition, and the standard of officials were mentioned as reasons that drive people towards unacceptable training methods. Additionally, 60% of those who responded did not know who to contact if they wanted to report an issue. 

Roly Owers, the Chief Executive of World Horse Welfare, explained how education and awareness is the base of informal control, followed by culture and peer pressure, while organisational rules and policies as well as criminal prosecution are the last formal tools. 

Owers also pointed out how there is no point in having rules if they are not enforced, while Potts highlighted the difficult position grooms can be left in if they witness unacceptable behaviour by their employers. Winter talked about the difficulty of handling horse welfare cases from the legal point of view, pointing out how horses suffer silently, while Johan Fyrberg from the Swedish Equestrian Federation highlighted the importance of communication and being a part of the debate which in his opinion is here to stay. 

The full webinar can be watched in replay here.


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