New advisory group puts horse welfare at the top of the agenda

  • Written By: British Dressage
  • Published: Tue, 10 Jan 2023 10:25 GMT

The British Equestrian Federation (BEF) recently announced that a new advisory group has been formed to provide guidance and recommendations in the key strategic area of equine wellbeing and welfare standards. 

Grey horse - patting 3

The new Equine Welfare and Ethics Advisory Group was launched on 23 December 2022, under the chairmanship of Professor Madeleine Campbell, and will work to provide evidence-based best practice, make recommendations on critical issues within equestrian sport and develop guidance to promote an ethical horse and human partnership. 
The composition of the new advisory group includes representation and expertise from across equestrian sport, equine veterinary science, and governing bodies, to ensure there is a balance of viewpoints and that any recommendations are appropriate and workable. 
The appointed members of the group are: 
Independent Chair – Professor Madeleine Campbell 
BVetMed (Hons) MA (Oxon) MA (Keele) PhD DipECAR DipECAWBM (AWSEL) MRCVS

  • Jim Eyre - BEF Chief Executive
  • Roly Owers MRCVS - BEF Board Director and CEO World Horse Welfare
  • John McEwen MBE, BVMS MRCVS - BEF Director of Equine Sports Science and Medicine
  • Richard Waygood MBE - BEF Technical Director
  • Iain Graham - British Showjumping Chief Executive
  • Sarah Phillips - BHS Chief Operating Officer
  • Lynne Bailey - BEF Head of Integrity and HR
  • Winnie Murphy - BEF Head of Communications 

John McEwen, BEF Director of Equine Sport Science and Medicine, commented; “I’m delighted that the vision for this group is now a reality. I would like to thank the Board for their direct action to address the serious threat to equestrian sports while ensuring the best wellbeing outcome for the horse. I’m also thrilled that Madeline Campbell has agreed to act as our chair, to have her extensive knowledge and experience brings enormous value to the group. 
“This advisory body hasn’t been set up to defend our sports, more to champion further improved welfare standards which will ensure equestrianism and the sports under the control of the BEF member bodies operates in a safe and ethical environment.” 
With an initial term to the end of 2023, the advisory group will cover equine welfare and safeguarding issues, with a remit to explore how best to support BEF member bodies. 
Key areas of responsibility have been identified as:

  • Identifying key threats and challenges, both real and perceived
  • Identify and collate current issues and consider scientific evidence to support best practice
  • Provide a Federation-wide strategic overview of equine care, wellbeing, and welfare in sport
  • To identify areas in which further research is needed and identify research priorities
  • Advise and make recommendations on areas where rule changes should be considered
  • Advise the BEF on response to welfare issues
  • Consider mechanisms for systems of equine safeguarding reporting
  • Engage and collaborate with BEF member bodies in the promotion of equine and wellbeing messaging, content and best practice, and strategic reputational work. 

Madeleine Campbell, Independent Chair of the new advisory group, added; “This is a welcome initiative from British Equestrian, and I was humbled to be asked to chair the group. The equestrian sporting landscape outside racing involves a large and complex range of stakeholders. However, I anticipate that the group will provide clear guidance and a framework for everyone to champion equine welfare in a way which clearly puts the horse’s wellbeing first and foremost and optimizes their care, and ultimately contributes to preserving our sports and to maintaining the social license to ride and keep horses in the future.” 
The Equine Welfare and Ethics Advisory Group will meet quarterly in 2023, as well as be available for any assistance with responses on welfare issues. At the end of the year, they will make recommendations to the BEF Board on how the advisory group’s remit and composition should be shaped to optimise their output towards meeting the key strategic imperative around welfare and equine safeguarding. 
Jason Brautigam, Chief Executive of British Dressage said, “We welcome the establishment of the new Equine Welfare and Ethics Advisory group, which is a positive step in ensuring we work collaboratively to improve standards of horse care across the equestrian sector.  We are grateful to Iain Graham, Chief Executive of British Showjumping, for representing the Olympic Disciplines on the group, and to the Chair of BD’s Welfare Panel, John McEwen, who will also bring a wealth of knowledge and experience in this area.  The health and wellbeing of our equine partners is at the heart of everything we do in British Dressage, so we fully support the remit of this group and look forward to working closely with them to ensure that welfare remains the paramount consideration for everyone involved in our sport.”