On October 31 World Horse Welfare held a thought-provoking annual conference hosting speakers from across the international equine sector. In the packed venue of the Royal Geographical Society in London experts and horse welfare enthusiasts discussed a wide range of topics such as changing trends in equine training methods and the importance of boosting developing countries people’s welfare in order to boost the welfare of working equidae. Although often addressed with humor, the omnipresent topic of Brexit made for this conference’s theme: Changing Times.
Roly Owers, World Horse Welfare CEO commented that this year’s theme of ‘Changing Times’ is a progression from the past couple of years when the organisation was focusing on Invisible Horses. ‘We wanted to consider the ever-developing debate around the shifting ways in which we manage, treat, understand, care for, protect and perceive the millions of equines undertaking thousands of different roles around the world – and how the changing world around us might impact their welfare.’
In the plethora of topics, we saw Utam Kaphle, Executive Director of Animal Nepal, advocating on how better human welfare in developing countries leads to improving the life of horses as their companions. Richard Davison, former Olympic dressage rider and World Horse Welfare Trustee, spoke about conditions of horse welfare in professional sports. Tim Colling, former British MEP, gave a brief analysis on the challenges and opportunities for horses in the light of Brexit while Joe Saxton, Britain’s leader in charity fundraising, emphasized the rising popularity of animal welfare issues in the UK.
A discussion panel featuring five equine vets touched upon the debate about rider weight, the unique role of vets in enhancing equine welfare through working with clients, the challenges presented by hard-to-reach communities and the developments in understanding equine behaviour which raises the question of how we define modern horsemanship. Lead by brilliant Nick Powell, Sky News Sports Editor, the panel sparked great interest from the audience, adding an interactive element to the conference.
The conference was live streamed and this year for the first time, in the spirit of the theme, discussions were taking place on Facebook Live, giving audiences the opportunity of interacting and submitting questions real time.