Management and control of horse welfare in Equestrian sport

Management and control of horse welfare in Equestrian sport

via monitoring and examining for lesions caused by equipment and riding aids


FEEVA Position
Horse welfare should not be compromised by use of equipment.
The person responsible (owner/rider/driver/trainer) for the horse is also responsible for correct adjustment, fitting and use of equipment at all times.

All equipment, despite the intention, has the potential to be used inappropriately. It is the responsibility of the person responsible to ensure that the horse comes to no harm through the use of tack or equipment.

Horse industry governing bodies, particularly horse sport organisations, have a definitive responsibility for upholding the welfare of horses in sport, as the horse acts as a silent partner.

· Adequate measures should be in place to govern the horses against any harm and compromised welfare, including proper use of equipment.

· Rules and regulations should always be based on acknowledgement of the horse as a sentient species and according to any available evidence-based learning theories.

· Sufficient enforcement of the rules and proper sanctioning measures should be in place.· Further training and education is encouraged. Education of officials and development of thorough, updated and evidence-based standard protocols for examination of horses on site at competition should be implemented.

Equipment potentially camouflaging lesions or affecting the horse’s natural senses and ability to move in a natural frame should be banned.

FEEVA recommends that:

· Veterinarians and governing bodies are familiar with evidence-based standard protocols for assessment of horse welfare with regards to use of equipment, like for example “The Oral Commissure Assessment Protocol (OCA)”8.

· Veterinarians and governing bodies seek to educate people in the equine industry about the importance of proper adjustment, fit and use of equipment.

· Governing bodies implement thorough, evidence-based examinations of horses in sport, pre- and post-competition, to ensure horse welfare is not compromised by the use of equipment.

· Governing bodies implement evaluation of rider/handler use of equipment during training, warm-up and competition, and assessment of horse welfare when being ridden or used otherwise (using validated objective behavioural markers of positive and negative welfare).

Read the full position paper HERE