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Champing at the Bit for Improvements: A Review of Equine Welfare in Equestrian Sports in the United Kingdom

Authors
  • q., tim
Publication Date
May 05, 2022
Identifiers
DOI: 10.3390/ani12091186
OAI: oai:mdpi.com:/2076-2615/12/9/1186/
Source
MDPI
Keywords
Language
English
License
Green
External links

Abstract

Equestrian sports, including racing (e.g., flat, steeple-chasing, harness or donkey derby); show-jumping; cross-country; dressage; polo; polocrosse; endurance; carriage driving; vaulting and hunting; are hugely popular in the UK, and they involve a significant number of people, both as participants and spectators, and tens of thousands of equids. In this paper, we discuss animal welfare as a complex and disputed issue, clarifying what the term means and how it can be measured. We review many aspects of welfare risk to equids used for sport, addressing issues encountered throughout their lives, including housing, feeding, veterinary intervention, shoeing, handling, training, breeding and equipment. This is followed by a unique exploration of the institutions and social processes influencing equine welfare. The institutional components comprise the rules of competition, the equids, attributes of the stakeholders and the space where participants strive to achieve a common purpose. We endeavour to untangle the most significant elements that create barriers or provide opportunities for equine welfare improvement. We expose the challenges faced by a broad range of stakeholders with differing ethics, attitudes and values. Evidently, there are many welfare risks to which equids used in sports continue to be exposed. It is also evident that significant improvements have occurred in recent times, but there remains a barrier to reducing the risks to an acceptable level. We conclude with recommendations regarding a process for change, involvement of stakeholders and management of knowledge to improve equine welfare that involves identifying and prioritising the risk factors and ultimately leading to interventions, further research and/or education.

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