Horse welfare is complex, partly due to the myriad uses, values, and husbandry arrangements for horses
By Tania Millen
March 15, 2023
Horse welfare is complex, partly due to the myriad uses, values, and husbandry arrangements for horses. They’re backyard pets, ridden and driven in competition, raced, raised for meat, and used for therapy, recreation, and rodeo. Horses are regularly transported, kept in rural and urban areas, stalls, pens, fields, and pastures, plus managed according to their use. Many horses live on individual properties and their welfare relies on individual owners, making poor welfare difficult to identify.
“We can have all the regulations in the world but if nobody is turning in the neighbour that’s starving their horse or if nobody sees the abused horse in somebody’s backyard, then our regulations aren’t any good,” says Jennifer Woods, a certified animal welfare auditor. She inspects Canadian equine operations and competition venues to ensure they meet acceptable welfare standards, including the Calgary Stampede, as well as rodeo and chuckwagon locations.
“I don’t think the system has failed horses,” says Woods. “I think we have areas of welfare that need to be addressed on individual farms where nobody sees what’s happening. There’s over-breeding. There are people who aren’t feeding their animals properly or providing health care.” [read more]