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Increasingly greater emphasis on equine well-being

3 November 2023

For the third year running, Equita Lyon organised a special day devoted to equine well-being on Thursday 2 November. Launched in 2021, on the initiative of the Steering Committee of the Equita  Lyon Health Area and supported by the French Equestrian Federation, the objective of this day is to bring together a wide variety of players from the equestrian sector in order to raise awareness about and address the issues of equine well-being. Owners of riding centres, professional riders and vets were among the many speakers who came to Equita Lyon to share their experiences and talk about the changes they see happening on a daily basis, as well as the initiatives they themselves are taking to promote the physical and mental health of horses. 

As Deborah Bardou, Chair of the French Equestrian Federation's Animal Welfare Commission, explains: "The subject of equine well-being is a complex issue and we are constantly developing our knowledge in this field. Owners have to take on board the fact that what they did for their horses yesterday will not necessarily be considered the best approach tomorrow. But there is no point in blaming yourself and beating yourself up about it. Owners need to remain positive, be inquisitive and keep track of developments in our understanding of the subject, and simply do the best they can". Over the years, equine well-being has become the key focus of the whole sector. "We can really see that young riders are increasingly sensitive to this issue and don't hesitate to raise their doubts and questions with the Federation," explains Alexia Bret-Morel, Animal Welfare Project Manager at the French Equestrian Federation. 

What's more, since the introduction of the French law of 30 November 2021, the 'certificate of commitment and knowledge" aims to raise awareness of welfare issues among people who own or keep horses, in order to make them more accountable in terms of responding to the horses' needs. The signatory of the certificate makes a commitment to ensuring the animal's needs are met.

And private individuals are not the only ones concerned by this key issue. Since 1 January 2022, all equestrian centres in France have been obliged to appoint an 'animal welfare advisor', who can follow certified training courses on the subject, if they so wish. Yaëlle Farge, who manages a riding school, has taken on this role: "Obviously, it's not always simple to completely reorganise the way we work. It's not necessarily easy to put everything in place at once, but we manage to get things done. We've been working on this issue for 10 years now, reinventing our daily lives to adapt various aspects, such as feeding, stabling and the working rhythm of our horses. Today, any concerns we may have had at the beginning are no longer valid. And taking action to improve the well-being of our horses doesn't increase costs". What's more, Yaëlle Farge explains that "our commitment to equine well-being is important in the eyes our customers, who really wouldn't understand if we didn't take an interest in this subject. And that's great, because our responsibility as teachers is perhaps first and foremost to ensure our young riders receive the proper training, since they will be the horse owners of tomorrow".

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