Everyone invited to join online conference for free

“When does use become abuse?” is the question that will be explored by experts across the horse world and beyond at World Horse Welfare’s 25th annual conference tomorrow on (10 November).

The event takes place at the Royal Geographical Society in London and virtually online. 

Thanks to sponsorship by the Sir Peter O’Sullevan Charitable Trust, anyone can sign up to join the online audience for free. 

The charity’s president, HRH The Princess Royal, is expected to attend this event which regularly attracts more than 600 guests to discuss strategic issues that impact welfare across the horse world. 

This year’s World Horse Welfare conference features speakers from the USA, Latin America, Europe and the UK with a lively discussion anticipated in light of the range of societal perspectives on what has become an increasingly challenging question. 

The line drawn between acceptable use of horses and abuse has shifted in recent years as societal values evolve and the public - and many equestrians - have greater understanding of, and place a greater value on, the welfare of animals. 

High-profile incidents in horse sport have prompted public concern, while debates on whether an equestrian’s traditional practices are or are not still acceptable increasingly erupt on social media. 

Social licence to operate

Roly Owers, World Horse Welfare chief executive, said, "The crucial link between truly prioritising horse welfare and maintaining our social licence to operate is getting more recognition in horse sport, but this concept also applies much more widely to all uses of horses, be it horse riding, carriage riding, tourism, therapy, conservation grazing, rewilding and even keeping horses as companions. 

“What was previously acceptable is often no longer considered so but where is the line now drawn, and who decides?”

A range of speakers from around the world will explore this complex topic including:

  • Mark Wentein, chair, European Horse Network on ‘The horse in Europe: relevance and responsibilities’
  • Tamara Tadich, Associate Professor, Universidad Austral de Chile on ‘Getting the balance right for working equids’
  • Matt Brown, US five-star eventer on ‘We all need to do better’
  • Lee Cain, founder, Charlesbye Strategy on ‘A matter of opinion’
  • Claire Bessant, former CEO, International Cat Care on ‘Cat welfare: When does use become abuse?’

The live discussion panel features representatives from a diverse cross-section of the equestrian world: Chaired by Nick Powell, Sports Editor of Sky News and comprising of Dr Sarah Coombs, Vet and World Horse Welfare Trustee; Dr Amber Batson, Vet; Professor Christine Middlemiss, UK Chief Veterinary Officer; Bluebell Brown, Royal Veterinary College and Lee Mottershead, Senior Writer, Racing Post. The panel will explore the theme further and take questions from the audience.  

The charity’s President, HRH The Princess Royal, will provide her views at 13:35 and the conference will run until 15.30. 

This will be a hybrid event. In-person attendance in London is by invitation only but anyone with an interest in horses and animal welfare can register to watch World Horse Welfare’s annual conference live HERE and it will remain to watch afterwards on the charity’s YouTube channel HERE

Along with The Sir Peter O’Sullevan Charitable Trust, and the event’s other supporters are the Horseracing Betting Levy Board and Equine Register.