A Member of European Parliament (MEP) is leading a campaign to “rapidly address” equine welfare issues in Europe.

Julie Girling — who is MEP for South West England and Gibraltar and chairman of the European Horse Network — announced her commitment to produce proposals for better guidance and education on responsible horse ownership last week (25 February).

“Unfortunately, equidae continue to suffer welfare problems across the entire European Union (EU),” Mrs Girling said.

“A number of areas of concern have become clear and need to be addressed rapidly. These include, at worst, complete neglect, but also the keeping of equidae in too small a space, confining them for long periods without access to turnout, and a lack of social interaction. Most of these problems can be addressed by educating their owners.

“The treatment of working equidae is also a cause of concern in a number of member states, as is a lack of access to professionals such as veterinary surgeons, farriers and saddlers.”

World Horse Welfare has welcomed Mrs Girling’s involvement.

“We are delighted at Mrs Girling’s willingness to champion this important issue,” said chief executive Roly Owers.

“Our extensive experience of working in Europe confirms that all member states face significant equine welfare issues ranging from serious neglect to day-to-day practices. Whilst vital improvements have been made there is still a great deal to do in order to help prevent widespread and needless compromises to equine welfare.

“We were particularly encouraged that Mrs Girling focussed on the importance of education and guidance and that she cited our ongoing efforts in Europe to raise the overall welfare standards for horses irrespective of their value or purpose. We look forward to seeing a robust and swift response to her proposal.”

The proposal will now be presented to the coordinators of the Agriculture Committee of the European Parliament.

Ref: Horse & Hound; 5 March 2015