Is the Future of Equestrian Ensuring Safety for Animals?

Published 01/15/2024, 3:45 PM EST

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Equestrian athletes, authorities, and enthusiasts have with changing attitudes walked on thin ice over animal safety concerns. The use of horses for sports or entertainment has been in practice among communities for centuries unfathomable. However, evolved mindsets and visible methods of training and participation, have sparked an alertness in athletes and spectators alike.

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According to numerous studies, horse-related injuries/deaths, to humans or the equines, have been recorded as high. The case further extends to equine abuse where negligence and cruelty cross hundreds every year. These factors have called for regulations from authorities but also a staunch opinion from spectators.

Spectators’ arguments over equestrian sports

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There have been several instances in equestrian sports that have sparked arguments from activists or spectators in general. To start with, two of Germany’s Olympic team equestrians were dropped from the games over a video of equine cruelty surfacing online. The incident gained global attention including activists’ call for the International Olympic Committee to remove equestrian sports from the Olympic program. This is further followed by the statistics that cover the internet alongside the harm-infusing training methods.

According to Lynn News, between 2016 and 2020 3,226 incidents of equine cruelty came into the RSPCA. 289 of those were reported in a single year. Moreover, eventing has reportedly recorded over a hundred horse deaths in less than 2 decades. 100 more deaths in disciplines over 2 decades, 10 every week in horse racing in 2018, and 83% of accident risk frame the grueling statistics further. However, the numbers and physical injuries haven’t been all that attributed to activists’ arguments.

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Some of the training methods adapted by authorities might not always sit right for the horses. The unruly measures are known to cause psychological harm to the horses eventually leading to performance degradation. Fear, pain, and physical health issues, all are on the brink of being infused upon the horse through the slightest of negligence. However, the equestrian governing bodies, aware of these, have constantly grown to implement regulations and garner acceptance.

The governing bodies response to the concerns

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The social license has been the governing bodies’ primary focus in precedence. The license is lent from society to let an industry engage with communities and offer acceptance alongside. “Social acceptability isn’t something you can market your way out of; it’s not something that nice pictures or talking about partnerships and so on is going to solve,” Dr. Natalie Waran, personnel at FEI said during a meet. Waran, alongside a committee, presented suggestions to garner people’s support showcasing the prioritization of equine well-being. Waran stated that the suggestions involving an evidence-based approach were put forth to ‘be credible and to maintain public trust‘.

So far, there have been hundreds of regulations. Horse Welfare and Safety Penalty Guidelines, Horse Protection Regulations, Technical Guidelines 2021, and more frame the groundwork of equestrian sport functioning. Thus, Spoga Horse in one view highlights that “There is hardly any other animal that is protected against abuse by regulations and independent bodies more effectively than the sports horse.”

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While there exist variable factors of equally high number of equine participation as compared to rest, there’s also the core truth of an equestrian athlete: love for horses. The passion has led athletes for years and it continues to. Thus, right intentions backed by policies suggest the authorities’ or an enthusiast’s gripping stand on equine welfare. If the industry is to survive, the connections have no path but to eliminate the fogging negativity that adorns the sport.

Watch this story: Witness The Never Before Experienced Equestrian Centre Surpasses Scale Parameters Before Opening

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Written by:

Shivatmika Manvi

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One take at a time

I was a little kid when my dad brought home a second horse out of his sheer love for the creatures. The excitement to ride and care for one from the first moment still gets to me as I watch the horses in action today; covering the intensity on the field. However, along the way of being immersed in the wider ground of equestrian sports, rodeo and bull riding lingered in the sight.
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Edited by:

Sampurna Pal

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