Progress into “essential” projects set out by the racing industry’s Horse Welfare Board is being made, one year on from its launch, despite Covid challenges. H&H finds out more
PROGRESS into “essential” projects set out by the racing industry’s Horse Welfare Board is being made, one year on from its launch, despite Covid challenges.
The whip, euthanasia and the ethics of using horses in sport were among the key headlines from the five-year strategy , which the industry hopes will serve as a “blueprint” for thoroughbreds before, during and after their racing careers.
While it has racing at its heart, the ripple effects will be felt across the equestrian world.
Horse Welfare Board chairman Barry Johnson gave H&H an update on the 20 recommendations and 26 “key projects”, ahead of a full announcement on funding and progress which is due in coming weeks.
“We were relieved to see the industry unanimously accept [the strategy on its launch] and it was all systems go in March to get set in, then Covid happened and that completely put the mockers on it,” he said.
A euthanasia code of practice, covering the whole thoroughbred industry and all stages of a horse’s life, has now been developed complete with a “decision-making tree” to help those involved in a horse’s care make informed decisions at a difficult time.
Mr Johnson explained the board was able to continue with ongoing projects, such as data collection and predictive risk modelling for jump racing. The research, funded by The Racing Foundation, into the funding of aftercare of racehorses has also been started.
A review of whip use in racing, which was set to be carried out in 2020, will now happen this year.
Mr Johnson explained the release of the euthanasia code was not something they announced as such, but it is something the equine industry “need to have”.
H&H has previously reported on research highlighting delayed euthanasia as one of the biggest welfare concerns affecting horses, and Mr Johnson added the code walks people through what to consider in terms of equine welfare when facing difficult decisions.
“I don’t think of this a ‘five-year’ strategy as [knowledge around] horse welfare is constantly evolving, it is different now to where it was 10 years ago, and in 10 years’ time it will be different again,” he said, adding improving welfare is a continuous aim. “Everyone who works with horses wanted the best for the horse, so everybody is pulling in the same direction.”
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