The push is on to establish September 17 as World Horse Day.
The chief executive of World Horse Welfare, Roly Owers, says the charity is working with the world governing body for horse sport, the FEI, to embed the concept.
Owers, addressing the FEI’s General Assembly in Uruguay this week, said World Horse Welfare and the FEI would soon be reaching out to all national federations, as well as national and local riding groups, to promote the initiative, which was still in the concept phase.
“For horses, we mean all horses, ponies, donkeys and mules, and we will celebrate the first World Horse Day at the World Equestrian Games in Tryon next year. We will launch a joint campaign to create a day as a celebration of the importance, contributions and societal value of all horses.”
The day would acknowledge horses involved in competition, sport and racing, as well as those who provided leisure and exercise to millions each week, or were kept as cherished companions. It would acknowledge those working in brick kilns or hauling goods to market or taking children to school. It would equally honour those who served in the military and law enforcement, as well as those in the ever-growing field of human therapy.
Those who are fundamental to people’s livelihoods in pastoral communities, including horses used for meat, milk and a growing array of other products, would equally be recognised.
“Horses are the most versatile of all animals that humans have ever domesticated, and have contributed and still contribute more to civilisation, society and economies than any other animal,” Owers said.
“There is a world day for tuna fish. We believe that is only right for horses to be given their rightful day in the calendar.”
Owers said the campaign would be developed throughout the next year and he urged FEI delegates to get involved.
“We will have a website featuring a toolkit you can use to promote the campaign and engage all those in your federation family and we will consider how we might engage the United Nations to officially recognise World Horse Day.
“We will enlist the support of a wide range of organisations and individuals across the world, including those from racing, polo, education, international development, other non-governmental organisations and industry.
“The more the world realises how useful, intrinsic and relevant horses are to all of our lives, the more they will understand that horses do not just belong in fields, but are celebrated and cherished for their multitude of partnerships with humankind.
“That will help show the passion of equestrianism for this incredible, unique and much loved animal.”