The Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) is on the right track in addressing key welfare issues in equine sport in a context of growing public concern for animal well-being and an evolving global climate, according to the chief executive of an international horse welfare association.
Speaking at the FEI annual General Assembly Nov. 8 in Istanbul, Turkey, Roly Owers, MRCVS, of World Horse Welfare (WHW) praised the FEI’s welfare efforts in an evolving world which has become more critical, in part because of social media.
"Clearly how horses are treated, and how they’re perceived to be treated, matters to the public," Owers said. "It is obviously right that the public should care about horse welfare in sport, but … in this social media age, the voice of vocal minorities can damage the reputation of the sport." As examples he cited the online "storms" surrounding the "blood rule" issue and debates about nose bands.
"And you all know that the animal rights group PETA is now suing the owners and trainer of Totilas in Germany," he added. "Whatever we feel about the merits of this case, this is a sign of the times. And there will be more to come."
The FEI’s major recent steps towards Clean Sport are commendable, particularly in this contex