Equestrianism and horse welfare in front of the public

In the United Kingdom, the World Horse Protection Association has launched an independent public poll through the YouGov platform to collect opinions on the welfare of horses in sport. Disturbing results that led to the organization of a round table with various players from the world of equestrian sports to think about solutions to win back the public.

This online survey, conducted in May 2022, polled 2,057 British adults over 18 to represent the entire population in terms of gender and socioeconomic background. Each time, the respondents either never had contact with horses or had no recent contact. Here are the main results of the survey. Of course, too few people were interviewed to establish real statistics, but the results are no less troubling:

– Two out of five (40%) supported the continued participation of horses in the sport only if their well-being improves, and 60% said that additional safety and welfare measures should be taken in equestrian sports.
-16% feel their confidence in protecting the welfare of horses in sport has been negatively affected in the past 2-3 years by media coverage.
-More than half (52%) believe that horse welfare should be a higher priority in communication.
– One in five (20%) under no circumstances support the continued participation of horses in sport.

Round table for the future of the sport horse

Five people were invited to discuss the situation on 21 June: Eventing Pipa Funnell, Dr. Barry Johnson, Chairman of the British Racing Horse Welfare Council, Christian Landolt, Dressage and Eventing Rider, Trainer and Member of the FEI Ground Jury David Morley, Chairman of the Pony Welfare Committee The Hurlingham Polo Association and Dr. Madeleine Campbell, Lecturer in Human-Animal Interaction and Ethics. With regard to the latter, the public perception is partly due to the lack of communication on the part of professionals, who should emphasize the relationship between man and horse, what they do daily for their well-being, and say that this brings the horse positive.

For athlete Pipah Funnell, a caution is needed against social media, where a person’s bad actions can quickly spill over into the entire sector. He also highlights part of education: “There could be a system where respected riders can wear an armband and be available to anyone who needs advice. They could also identify and train those who are doing something wrong with the horse. “. The same speech from Christian Landolt: ” There is a big difference in how people treat their horses at all levels and that worries me. Education needs a boost. »

For horse racing, several trainers and racetracks have opened their doors for the public to see what’s going on before and after the race, but Barry Johnson emphasizes the need for all equestrian sports to work together to find solutions to build public confidence. There are also several actions being taken in polo to improve the welfare of ponies, including a system that will check to see if retired ponies are returning to the sport or to thoughts on match days.

To sum it up, the horse world must remember to say out loud what they are doing well, even if it seems normal to them. ” This is an opportunity to shed light on what makes the partnership of horse and human so authentic and inspiring. I think we need to give as much attention to the horses as we do to the riders and we should show the care and one on one relationship we have with our horses and celebrate their success as true partners. concludes Raleigh Overs, Managing Director of World Horse Welfare. Debates are open!

(with press release)

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