International event rider, Harry Meade, expressed the importance of putting the horse first in the world of equestrian sport. He said:
“We need to ensure a high welfare standard throughout horse sport. Not simply the elements which are very much in the public eye but what happens in the collecting ring and behind closed doors.”
Labour MP, Angela Smith, praised the ways in which equine welfare charities work in partnership but highlighted a need for stronger partnership working with local authorities to tackle welfare problems.
Tim Morris, Member of the Animal Health and Welfare Board for England, expressed the problems equines face due to falling between the gaps in legislation. He said:
“We are in a situation where horses are in some respects regarded as an agricultural animal but then in others are regarded as a non-agricultural animal and so we must be careful to ensure we fill these gaps and don’t let them become invisible as a result.”
Editor of Horse & Rider and Pony magazines, Louise Kittle, raised the importance of education in improving horse welfare and emphasised the pool of resources, knowledge and experience within welfare charities which can be shared with both the public and horse owners through the media.
World Horse Welfare Chairman, Barry Johnson MRCVS, highlighted the challenges facing equine welfare charities due to public perception of what constitutes a welfare concern and what is a resolution to a welfare case. He said:
“Prosecutions are the end of the line and wherever possible we will work with owners to support and advise. Equine welfare charities work well together in partnership to achieve a successful end result but this might not always be what the public want or hope to see.”