New laws passed in France mean anyone who wants to own a horse will have to have a certificate of knowledge.
The change, which brings horse ownership in line with that of other companion animals under French law, is one of three brought in in an attempt to “combat animal abuse and strengthen the link between animals and humans”. The other laws will mean that it is mandatory to register an equine neurectomy, and that yard owners may sell horses whose livery is unpaid.
The French equestrian federation (FFE) said the changes had been “long awaited by the equine sector” and that they would “make it possible to fight against mistreatment and ensure the well-being of equines”.
The knowledge certificates were brought in by the FFE for its members in 2019 to ensure owners had the necessary knowledge of horses’ needs to ensure their wellbeing. They comprise an online theory module and a practical assessment offered by FFE-approved clubs.
Since then, FFE president Serge Lecomte had been campaigning for the certificates to be required for all owners by law, which will apply for private owners within a year.
Neurectomy, the practice of “de-nerving” horses to promote soundness, for example in those with navicular disease, is not banned in France. But, the FFE said: “It is considered as doping in competitions and racing [as it makes] shocks or injuries painless, which can jeopardise the welfare of the equid.”
The third change is aimed at helping yard owners deal with horses whose livery bills have not been paid, as they have previously “found themselves obliged to care for” the animals.
“This law aims to resolve these cases of abandonment in equestrian establishments and allows them to deal with unpaid [bills],” the FFE said. “Thus, after a formal notice from the owner and a legal period of three months, the professional can apply to the judicial court which, after studying the case, may authorise the auction of the horse.
“The adoption of this law represents a major step forward welcomed by the FFE. On behalf of the federation, Serge Lecomte sincerely thanks the parliamentarians involved and in particular the two presidents of the horse studies groups as well as Loïc Dombreval, co-rapporteur of this text to the national assembly and Anne Chain-Larché, senator of Seine-et-Marne and rapporteur to the senate, for their listening and understanding of the issues of equine wellbeing, and the resulting economic considerations for club leaders.”
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