The National Equine Forum was attended by over 200 influential members of the equine industry and problems such as unnecessary breeding, the treatment of unwanted horses, the ethical use of horses in sport and development of a workable equine ID system were all discussed.

Roly Owers, Chief Executive of World Horse Welfare, instigated an enthusiastic debate on responsible breeding and horse ownership, saying: “Our aim must be to reduce the number of horses bred, and improve the quality of horses bred, and so diminish the number of horses in a perilous situation.  We all have a responsibility to rise to the challenge.”

Nicolas de Brauwere, Head of Welfare and Behaviour at Redwings Horse Sanctuary discussed their observation that irresponsible owners cause ‘problem’ horses. Mr de Brauwere called for owners to be more responsible not only with breeding but also buying, selling, training, riding plus general care and that they should “address problems rather than move on to another horse."

Reiterating the crucial need for a workable equine ID system, Jan Rogers, Head of Equine Development, British Equestrian Federation, outlined initial plans for a central equine information system, to provide a robust, coordinated facility for an industry that is estimated to be worth £7 billion. She said: “We have learned a great deal from previous databases and there are things we can improve upon. We need to get the system right for all users, from enforcers to passport issuing organisations to horse owners.”

The event also saw the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the FEI and World Horse Welfare, which provides guidelines for welfare in equestrian sport. A new online, multi-media educational tool, for vets and farriers as well as interested owners and riders was launched too.