Commission Formed To Help Horse Sport Retain Social License To Operate - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report
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Commission Formed To Help Horse Sport Retain Social License To Operate

Blueberry gets a big hug at the end of his Training 2 test at the 2021 Thoroughbred Makeover. Pyrois Media Photo

Society's acceptance of equestrian sport and all its related activities – called a “Social License to Operate” (SLO)–has come under fire recently, most notably with the removal of the riding portion of the modern pentathlon from the Olympic Games. 

The International Equestrian Federation (FEI), the governing body of Olympic sport, has created a commission to help ensure riding remains socially accepted. The commission is tasked with creating a framework that will assist the organization in addressing current and future concerns related to using horses in sporting events, reports Horses and People

The majority of discussion around SLO includes how horses are treated, though whether a sport is seen to adhere to moral and ethical norms, both formal and informal, is also considered. 

The French National Assembly (FNA) requested 46 rule changes it felt would assist in the sustainability of riding as a sport. The FNA noted in its request that societal acceptance of how horses are treated is integral to the sport's continuity as the public becomes more concerned with animal welfare.

The FEI has followed suit, noting that while there are mechanisms in place to protect the horse, more must be done transparently and quickly. It have created a 10-person commission, of which five members are not directly associated with the FEI. The commission is chaired by Dr. Natalie Waran of New Zealand, an animal welfare expert and Fellow of the International Society for Equitation Science. She is a Professor of One Welfare and Executive Dean at the Eastern Institute of Technology (Te Pūkenga).

The commission is expected to work over an 18-month period, with the first meeting taking place in June of 2022. That meeting will focus on identifying stakeholders and creating engagement plans. 

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Other commission members include:

  • Dr. Kathalijne Visser-Riedstra, External Expert, Professor (UAS) Human-Animal Interactions at Aeres University of Applied Sciences – Almere, Flevoland, The Netherlands
  • Dr. Camie Heleski, External Expert, Senior Lecturer College of Agriculture, Food and Environment at the University of Kentucky
  • Dr. Madeleine Campbell, External Expert, Senior Lecturer in Human-Animal Interactions & Ethics at the Royal Veterinary College University of London
  • Jessica Stark, External Expert, World Horse Welfare Communication and Public Affairs Director
  • Theo Ploegmakers, European Equestrian Federation President, FEI Board Member
  • Cayetano Martínez de Irujo, Spanish jumping rider – International Jumping Riders Club
  • Ken E. Lalo, CAS Arbiter, former Chair of the FEI Tribunal, President of the Israel Equestrian Federation
  • Sabrina Ibanez, FEI Secretary General, Association of Paralympic Sports Organizations President
  • Cesar Hirsch, FEI Judge and Steward Level 3 and President of the Pan American Equestrian Confederation

Read more at Horses and People

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