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World Horse Welfare President Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal speaking on stage

World Horse Welfare President Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal speaking on stage

One Health, One Welfare: Horse And The Environment

7 months ago

25th November, 2023 10h56

World Horse Welfare

Many horse keepers and associated professionals are aware of the danger of veterinary drugs to the environment, believes David Rendle, immediate past President of BEVA. Addressing a global audience of almost 1,000 people, including Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal, he also acknowledged the link between the health and welfare of the environment and equine health and welfare. “Use of drugs is a consequence of our inappropriate management of horses. The conditions we are treating, not always but mostly, could be avoided by improvement in management practices.”

One of the overarching conclusions at World Horse Welfare’s recent conference exploring whether horses were friend or foe to the environment was that everything was interlinked. That horses, people and the environment share ‘One Welfare’ was highlighted throughout.

This link was explored further by Jenny Rogers, Manager and Trustee of Ash Rescue Centre in Devon, which has been actively managed for wildlife and the positive knock-on effects that this had for the horses living there. She pointed out that the elderly horses in her care rarely needed veterinary drugs and they worm count frequently but the counts seemed to stay low. “The more birds we encourage on the farm, the lower our worm counts become.”

The One Welfare concept was shared among other topics covered, including the environmental impact of horse sport, the challenges of climate change faced by working equids around the world and the communities who rely on them, the use of horses as a vital conservation tool and how we can improve the way we keep, travel and compete horses for the benefit of all.

The morning’s sessions were chaired by Dr Neil Hudson MP, the only vet in the House of Commons, and began with World Horse Welfare’s Chief Executive, Roly Owers MRCVS, delivering his keynote speech, acknowledging that horses and the environment was a very large and very complex subject. “When we start to think about the future, it is vital to remember that sustainability is about adaptation as well as mitigation. We must all be agents of change. We are all in the same herd."

Acknowledging this in her closing address, World Horse Welfare President Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal, summed up the event saying, “These things do sometimes sound simple and at the end of the day they are more complicated. We need to make absolutely sure we do understand the horse’s place in the environment and our ability to support them be as natural as possible while we enjoy their presence and the different ways in which we relate to them.”

Summing up the conference and recognising the interconnectedness of all the rich tapestry of topics covered, Roly Owers acknowledged that there are no clear-cut answers but “There are small steps that can take us forward to be good land managers as well as being good horse managers. We haven’t inherited the equestrian sector from our predecessors, we’ve borrowed it from our successors.”

“We all share one future. One Health, One Welfare. Animals, humans and the environment are intertwined.”

World Horse Welfare would like to thank the headline sponsor of the Conference, The Sir Peter O’Sullevan Charitable Trust, and our supporters, the Horseracing Betting Levy Board and Equine Register.

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