Horse Welfare


Herning 2022 intended to create a sustainability model for great equestrian events.

The approach involves the development of a new mentality that considers sustainability as an opportunity for innovation and added value.   Herning 2022’s approach to CO2 was to reduce it to a minimum whenever possible, while compensating for the rest: 'The greatest impact on climate derives from transport to and from the venue, but it is however impossible to organise an event without horses, riders and visitors. That is the reason for which we decided to offer the possibility of compensation. This is our planet and we all have to be part of the solution,' said the organising committee. The FEI and several national equestrian federations have also joined the climate protection project together with Herning 2022 and in cooperation with First Climate.

This is a wind energy project in north-western Turkey. The wind farm is located on the hills along the Marmara Sea coast, an area with ideal conditions for the sustainable production of electricity using wind. The project has 35 wind turbines that provide clean electricity to more than 100,000 people every year.
Herning 2022 also raised the bar for horse welfare at shows.

Stabling and arena management in all disciplines was very good. There was also a break every 20 horses for arena maintenance. Furthermore, on the day before the classes under floodlights were held, everyone was allowed to enter the lit arena so as to accustom their horses to the lights.

The show jumping courses were tough, as expected at a World Championship, but, according to the riders themselves, very intelligently built, paying great attention to the horses and emphasising fitness above all. The starting orders indicated the names of the horses as well and their genealogy, the name of owners and also the names of the grooms! One additional step forward could be adding the breeder’s name too!
@Cavalli & Cavalieri

Modern theories concerning the manner in which horses learn are forcing us to make unavoidable changes so as to keep up with the times.

Show jumping, dressage and eventing are sports disciplines that date back to well before the development of studies addressing Learning Theory – formed in around the 1960s and 1970s – and are reluctant to change their traditions in favour of new ethological research.

And yet public opinion is changing, and it is doing so very quickly, so one must be aware of this and keep up with the times if we want our sport and all its disciplines to survive or, even better, to grow and evolve. It is first of all necessary for us to evolve and gain greater knowledge of horses, of the principles that regulate their life in nature, their way of communicating and their learning psychology.

Stress signals are harder to interpret in horses compared, for example, to dogs, but nowadays thanks to photographic instruments and increasingly sophisticated and precise filming, it has become possible to capture these expressions. Equestrian knowledge has made immense progress and thanks to the internet and social media, people in general are learning quickly and our sport will have to adapt to change and to awareness.

Moving towards change
One must learn to acknowledge that it is also possible to compete in classes in which what is judged is training, the harmony between horse and rider as well as the horse’s comfort, rather than obtaining fleeting results causing excessive efforts or coercion that clearly causes stress in horses. It is a matter of wanting to learn about this alternative and apply it, as well as being open to change.

Nowadays we have all the scientific means and the knowledge required to guarantee harmonious coexistence between horse and rider. First and foremost, we must do this by enabling horses to cope with competitive sports on the basis of their own potential and without obliging them to do what they are unable to do. Horsemen and women are well aware of what this means. One must bear in mind the main sources of stress: first of all long and often non-stop journeys from one end of the planet to the other. Endless shows. Series and circuits that involve all levels of our sport and at which one often observes rather undignified performances. Competitiveness at all costs. Such a life is not suited to the natural needs of horses. There is no social life for them. And the list could be far longer.

We must all be creators, supporters and agents of change. Let us start with all that is extraordinarily beautiful in equestrian sports. There are so many good examples to follow: riders, grooms, trainers, instructors, personalities, horsemen and women in general who, regardless of the discipline they have chosen or the method they represent, know 'how it should be done' in the name of good and fair riding. The list is certainly long, fortunately. Let us follow the examples before our eyes. There is a serious need for a balanced approach to our sport as well as a great deal of common sense and, of course, a lot of real horsemen and women.

Horses at the centre
“There is a need to put horses back at centre of our sport as the subjects and not the objects of sport as is instead happening now.” These were the words that, a short time before his death, Piero d’Inzeo spoke when talking to the IJRC’s director Eleonora Ottaviani. This thought came to mind while the two reflected together on the situation show jumping was experiencing and on the ‘big business' that is now at the heart of our sport.

Due to the direction sport has taken its evolution into a well-outlined business is increasingly evident and being capable of always prioritising sport and meritocracy seems to have become extremely difficult, if not impossible. Top priority must be given to true skill and pure sport in which athletes, horses and riders are always at the centre of the interests of national federations and all bodies and organisations involved. Some may of course object that it is also true that it is hard to give up significant revenue in the name of safeguarding the sport’s integrity and in the name of ideals that are nowadays often sadly underestimated as are the sports ethics that make our sport different since it involves two athletes, horses and riders.

What are the ideals sportspeople should strive for and what are the principles they should be inspired by? Once the answers are identified one should analyse in depth the various critical aspects of sport, while taking into account reality and the times in which we live, trying to determine rules and standards to be followed on the basis of what has been established, in compliance not only with official regulations, but also with both collective and individual moral principles, which, in the case of our sport, involve both horses and riders.
Hence the need to rekindle consciences and reawaken everyone to the issue of horses seen as the SUBJECTS rather than the objects of our sport...