Communities For Horses has pledged support for the Alliance for Horse Welfare in Sport (AHWS) Campaign to make the Paris 2024 the Olympic Games of Equine Welfare.
There is growing unease about the use of horses in competitive sport, particularly at the higher levels. The ridden component of the modern pentathlon at the Tokyo Olympics highlighted how participating in these events can significantly compromise equine welfare. Witnessing what Saint Boy endured in the name of sport was a horrifying wake up call to many.
However, harms to equine welfare run deeper than this, spanning all equestrian disciplines, and indeed all levels of equestrianism. With the Olympics due to be held in Paris in 2024 there is a move, led by the French National Assembly, to make the Paris 2024 Olympics the ‘Olympics of Horse Welfare’. Communities For Horses is one of many organisations giving their support to this initiative.
Why have we got involved? At first glance this issue may seem removed from our usual area of work, but it really isn’t. What is accepted as normal or even good practice at the higher levels of equestrianism filters down to everyday horse people. If you are exposed to endless images of horses competing with tight nosebands, heads tucked into their chest’s way behind the vertical, spurs and whips being used inappropriately it becomes normalised. The horse’s expressions of pain and stress become normalised too. What people then accept and consider as ‘normal’ for a ridden horse in terms of the way they are ridden, the tack and equipment used on them, and their behaviour and facial expressions, then changes to fit the images they are repeatedly exposed to.
We don’t want this to happen. We don’t want this to be seen as normal. We want people to recognise when a horse is not comfortable, when rider actions are not appropriate, when equipment is used unnecessarily and inappropriately. And we want people to do better with their own horses. That is why it is an issue we care about and that is why Communities For Horses is supporting this campaign.
More information about the campaign, and the 46 recommendations that have been made to improve equine welfare at the Olympics, can be found here: