For 5000 years, equines have fulfilled a multitude of roles - in transport, haulage, construction, leisure, therapy, sport, on farms, and for companionship - and these may change during the lifecycle of an individual.
This versatility has ensured that equines have remained close to humans, but it has also created problems when seeking protection for them in law. Depending on where and how they are used, equines may be legally defined as farm animals, companion animals or even wild animals. Furthermore, a single equine can cover several of these classifications within their lifetime.
There are a number of serious welfare challenges, including irresponsible ownership and breeding, lack of traceability, long-distance transport, inhumane farming, and slaughter for veterinary medicines and beauty products, as well as pairing equines with sustainable development goals.
EU Platform on Animal Welfare Resources
- Guide to good animal welfare practice for the keeping, care, training and use of horses
- Horse Guide Factsheets - infectious disease and biosecurity, hoof care, water, turnout - shelter and pasture, stable - indoor housing, social interaction and comfort behaviour, feed
- Guide to good animal welfare practice for the keeping, care, training and use of donkeys and donkey hybrids
What do we want to achieve?
Responsible ownership of equines, and improved traceability
- Short journey limits, improved conditions and better enforcement for equines intended for slaughter across Europe
- Introduction of country-of-origin labelling for horse meat
- A suspension of imports of equine meat and derived products where welfare is compromised
- The promotion of eCG alternatives with the aim to end imports from South American farms
- The promotion of equine welfare globally through EU development policy