Ethical training and care of sport horses is a significant milestone has been accomplished in a research.
More than a hundred horse specialists participating in equestrian sport and federations from more than twenty-four nations were questioned about welfare in an attempt to distill their expertise, experience, and views about the administration, training, health, and welfare of sport horses.
The major objective of the research, which started at the beginning of the year, is to ensure the safety of competing horses. However, it is hoped that the study’s conclusion would also aid in safeguarding and enhancing the prestige of equestrian sports.
The complicated subject at the center of the research is what is required for sport horses to have a high degree of wellbeing. The Sporthorse Welfare Foundation was established by a group of eminent experts from across the world.
The researchers have been tasked with identifying crucial aspects of sport horse management that create a high quality of life. This phase, the earliest and most comprehensive portion of the investigation, has now been completed. To do this, they conducted interviews with horse experts from across the globe.
Researchers were astonished by the volume of responses they got.
Dr. Jane Williams, an associate professor at Hartpury University in England, said that team coaches, elite riders, competition grooms, team veterinarians, farriers, national federations, and scientists participated in the first phase of the research.
This first step focused on identifying the main issue areas that, in their view, should be addressed when discussing the welfare of sport horses.
“We got a great deal of insightful feedback from these very seasoned specialists. Now that the analysis is complete, the group is thrilled to report that they are prepared for the next phase of this ground-breaking investigation.”
Williams observes that existing scientific research about the wellbeing of sport horses is scant.
“However, there are a large number of equestrian experts across the globe, including riders, grooms, trainers, veterinarians, scientists, farriers, owners, and many more who offer a wealth of expertise and information on this topic.”
Researchers have the ability to distill their knowledge and produce a globally accepted shared agreement on best practice by researching the researchers’ respective areas of expertise, which results in the production of a clear framework of agreed-upon guidelines.
Rob Ehrens, a former coach for the Dutch showjumping team, was one of the people who took part in the research and contributed enthusiastically. He thinks it’s crucial that the study be done.
Every every day, we get to appreciate the wonderful sport that we play. However, we must be certain that we do not utilize our horses as a tool in order to achieve success and accrue financial gain. We owe it to our horses to treat them well and provide the best care possible for them.
“I feel that this research enables us to better define the dialogue that we are having about the well-being of horses and offers tools to individuals who deal with horses. It would be to the advantage of the horses, and when they are handled, ridden, and cared for in an even more optimal manner, I feel that the level of competition in the sport will also improve.
In the next stage of the research, the experts will cast their votes and provide their ratings on the final themes in order to arrive at a unified opinion about the welfare of sport horses in their whole.
In the third step, we will evaluate whether or not these welfare domains are being evaluated using the most relevant methods. In-depth interviews with subject matter experts will make up the fourth and last stage of the research project. The purpose of these interviews is to further explain and define the (sub)domains.
The Sporthorse Welfare Foundation will analyze the final data and communicate the preliminary findings with interested parties. All findings will be presented in a series of online webinars free to all equestrian stakeholders and anybody with an interest in the subject.
Dr. Williams, Dr. Carolien Munsters (the Netherlands), Dr. David Marlin (the United Kingdom), and Professor Dr. Michael Weishaupt created the foundation as a non-profit member organization (Switzerland). The European Equestrian Federation, the International Dressage Trainers Club, the national federations of Belgium, Germany, France, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and Switzerland, the Sport Horse Research Foundation, World Horse Welfare, and Hartpury University all support it.
According to David Hunt, president of the International Dressage Trainers Club, horse care is the first priority for horse trainers.
“Supporting the Sporthorse Welfare Foundation allows the International Dressage Trainers Club to be proactive in creating horse welfare standards,” he explains.
“The ambiguity regarding horse care casts a dark shadow on our sport.” By reaching a clear agreement, we as trainers will be able to effectively carry out our obligation to teach and enforce horse care.”
According to World Horse Wellbeing CEO Roly Owers, there is an urgent need for additional evidence to explain or enhance how sport horses’ welfare is maintained in their everyday care and training. As a result, the foundation’s work is very important.
“All of horse sport, as well as other horse owners, will benefit from the additional knowledge and data generated by the foundation, allowing them to make educated choices to guarantee they are actually putting the horse’s welfare first.”
“They would also have objective evidence to show this and share it to the public, therefore contributing to the horse industry’s social license to operate.”
According to Professor Dr. Lars Roepstroff, who was also one of the foundation’s founders, the objective is to reach an agreement on the requirements that sport horses have to fulfill in order to feel well.
This assertion is going to serve as the starting point for the conversation concerning equestrian sports. It helps competitors in equestrian sport better place what they see, but it would also provide equestrians tools to take better care of their horses. The horses that compete in equestrian activities will come out ahead in the end.”
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