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About the Horse Welfare Alliance of Canada

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Attention all equine associations groups or organizations

Would you like to have a speaker for a conference, general or annual general meeting? 

HWAC presentations cover:

  • Why HWAC 
  • What have we done 
  • What are we doing 
  • Where is the equine industry now, where should it be 
  • How do we inform horse owners and the public
  • What is your role 
  • Why identification and traceability
  • MORE

Promoting the humane handling of horses throughout all their life stages

The Horse Welfare Alliance of Canada (HWAC) is an alliance of provincial equine organizations, farm animal care groups and other segments of the animal agriculture industry.

HWAC was formed in 2008 as a response to concerns related to the humane care and handling of horses. These concerns were not being addressed by other equine industry organizations.

HWAC was registered under Corporations Canada on 29 JUL 2011 as a not for profit corporation. HWAC Bylaws.

The Alliance:

    • promotes humane handling of horses throughout all of their life stages
    • develops and supports the existing education programs of each of its partners and / or members
    • informs its constituents, partners and members of matters and issues related to the welfare of the horse population
    • enhances public awareness of matters and issues relating to the welfare of the horse and the industry
    • networks with organizations who assist the Alliance in the achievement of its purpose and objectives
    • encourages responsible breeding practices
    • promotes and educates measures to protect the health of the equine herd and the public including biosecurity
    • monitors issues that impact the welfare and health of horses
    • advocates wherever the interests of the horse, horse people and industry will be positively affected.

      The formation of the Horse Alliance was driven by horse processing issues arising in the United States and its fallout into the horse industry in Canada.

        Focus Areas

        • Education: horse owners, caregivers, transporters, industry stakeholders, governments and the public
        • Liaisons: with industry, governments, other agencies
        • Equine Health and Welfare
        • Monitor: issues across Canada that impact the welfare and health of horses and take the appropriate action to insure that horse welfare is not compromised so the integrity of the horse industry can be sustained.

        Some reflections

        • Horses are used for farm and ranch work, sport, law enforcement and search and rescue, recreation and breeding.
        • From a legislative perspective, horses are considered livestock and/or companion or recreation animals.
        • From a cultural perspective, horses are viewed as our partners and friends.
        • Canadian horse industry supports 200,000+ jobs.
        • Horses are the only food producing livestock species not 0-rated for GST.
        • Annual exports of horse meat exceed $60 million.
        • 70% of the annual sector production is processed for export and domestic markets.
        • Activities with horses contribute over $15 billion annually to the Canadian economy.
        • Economic challenges to horse owners and health and welfare issues are critical.

        Horse processing

        • 16% of the world’s population consumes horse meat.
        • Europe, Asia, South America, Australia and Canada consume horse meat.
        • Horse meat is low in fat, and a good source of protein and iron.
        • Cultural factors (religious, economic) influence public attitudes towards eating horse meat.
        • Health of Animals and Meat Inspection Regulations control this industry well.
        • CFIA Inspection Staff must be on-site for a plant to operate.
        • Water must be made available for horses.
        • Horses are to be fed if held over 24 hrs.
        • Routine plant audits of animal handling and stunning ensure a safe and humane end of life experience.

        Horse transportation

        Transportation of animals is federally regulated under Section XII of the Health of Animals Regulations. Federal requirements define:

        • The conditions under which an animal is unfit for travel;
        • The transportation practices used during loading, transit and unloading.
        • In Canada an animal must be “able to stand in its natural position without coming into contact with a deck or roof”.
        • In the U.S., horses destined for slaughter may not be transported in a double-decker trailer.

        Biosecurity and horse welfare

        Biosecurity involves taking the necessary precautions to control risks of infectious diseases being carried into a facility by people, animals, equipment or vehicles. We must reduce the risks of exposure to infectious agents, and minimize its spread if disease does occur.

        Biosecurity at events

        • Fairs, exhibitions and horse shows are popular events for a wide spectrum of people and their horses.
        • This is an ideal milieu for transmission of pathogens between horses, from horses to people or from people to horses.
        • Vaccination of animals and maintaining health requirements are important regulations for such events.
        • Avoid nose-to-nose contact opportunities.
        • Provide ample facilities for washing hands and equipment – ensure good drainage and regular maintenance of facilities.
        • Good signage is important: consider signs requesting visitors not to touch the animals.
        • Footbaths offer a false sense of health security.

        Health and care

        • Equine Health = Equine Welfare
        • Nutrition – proper feed and water.
        • Hoof care – on a routine basis.
        • Health indicators to be observed.
        • Vaccination schedule for equines should be followed.
        • First Aid Kit on hand at all times:
          • Stethoscope
          • Thermometer
          • Wound cleanser / antiseptic spray and cream
          • Cutters
          • Clean stable wraps
          • Absorbent pads
          • Self-sticking bandages
        • Consultation with your veterinarian is recommended for good health care.
        Last Updated ( Thursday, 03 March 2016 07:14 )  

        Statement of Purpose

        The communication of accurate information related to the Canadian horse industry to horse owners and the general public.


        The Horse Welfare Alliance of Canada will:

        1. support the existing education programs of each of its partners
        2. promote humane handling of horses throughout all of their life stages.
        3. inform its constituents and partners of matters and issues related to the welfare of the horse population.
        4. enhance public awareness of matters and issues relating to the welfare of the horse and the horse industry.
        5. strive to network with other organizations who assist the Alliance in the achievement of its purpose and objectives.

        Questions and comments may be directed to the Chair Bill desBarres 403.526.1070