Opinion: why racing’s welfare strategy is good news for the sport horse *H&H Plus*

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  • Racing's new five-year welfare strategy will have a major impact on the industry — but its effects will be felt throughout the equestrian world. Senior news writer Lucy Elder gives her thoughts on the recent recommendations.

    Listening to the launch of British racing’s new welfare strategy brought two main things to mind — firstly, this is a massive positive.

    Secondly, this is going to have an impact so much further than just racing, but on the other of the equestrian sporting disciplines too.


    For anyone who missed the announcement last week, racing’s cross-industry Horse Welfare Board launched the sport’s first equine welfare strategy. It covers all corners of the industry of thoroughbred horses bred for racing, from birth to death.

    This is not a case of poor welfare in British racing — quite the opposite — it is about taking control of the discussion.

    While the report is about racing and the thoroughbred, it was about so much more than that. These are issues the wider equestrian world, particularly the equestrian sporting world, is also facing. Yes on a much smaller scale, yes much less in the public or political eye. But traceability, accountability, ethics, safety, use of the whip, data collection… swap ‘racing’ for ‘eventing’ and are the conversations so very different?

    No, is my opinion. It was especially interesting to see reference to a possible “sport horse charter”as an extension of the recommendation for racing to “develop and communicate an ethical case for racing”, which could potentially “be developed with other equine sports as a ‘sport horse charter’.”

    The general horse population already benefits hugely from racing. Research into vaccinations, injury treatments, safety — so many of these things have links bedded in the racing world. There are recommendations in here that really could benefit the whole horse population and the future of equestrian sport as a whole.

    Let’s hope racing getting on the front foot of the discussion does just that.

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