Safety with horses focus of Aust national conference

Dr Andrew McLean is one of the presenters at the People.Horses.Culture conference next month.
Dr Andrew McLean is one of the presenters at the People.Horses.Culture conference next month.

Australia could have its own nationwide horse safety day following a proposal that is being put to the upcoming Horse SA national conference.

The People.Horses.Culture conference at Morphettville Racecourse in Adelaide on May 24 is focusing on the safety of people and horses in the workplace.

Keynote presenters include University of Melbourne’s Dr Peta Hitchens, who is talking about the power of collaboration, safety and welfare improvements in racing. Dr Andrew McLean will address current issues in equestrianism as it relates to safety, while PhD student Meredith Chapman provides insights into a national survey on what people really think about horse safety.

“We are inviting anyone who supervises interactions between horses and people to consider attending this unique cross-industry event,” said Horse SA’s Executive Officer, Julie Fiedler.

“Our equestrian culture, our traditional way of doing things, is under increasing pressure to respond to societal changes which demand safer workplaces, including community events, for workers, participants, volunteers and our horses”.

It is the third national workplace safety conference for the horse industry and community, with previous events held in Adelaide (2013) and Sydney (2016). It is suitable for business managers, non-profit organisations and event volunteers, safety officers, Registered Training Organisations, researchers and other roles where supervisors are responsible in a work or community environment where people interact with horses.

Nina Arnott, another of the 15 industry experts presenting, will discuss evidence that helps in a court case, while Lisa Burrows from the Department of Primary Industries, New South Wales, provides insight into more than 2200 responses from a recent ‘Horse Identification and traceability’ survey.

From the standardbred viewpoint, Kathleen Mullan, the Equine Health and Welfare Manager for Harness Racing Australia, will discuss the organisation’s welfare strategy and its vision.

At the closing of the conference, Central Queensland University Associate Professor Kirrilly Thompson, who has published extensive research on the horse-human relationship, will ask the question “Should Australia have a national horse safety day”. Thompson is chair of the board of Horse SA.

A youth poster competition, with a prize of $100, is also being held in conjunction with the conference.

Event sponsors include Thoroughbred Racing SA and Safety in Focus, and all employers or small businesses who have supported presenters to attend.

More information

Kathleen Mullen
Kathleen Mullen

• Following the conference, Dr Andrew McLean and Kathleen Mullen will present an educational session on retraining retired thoroughbred and standardbred racehorses.

At the Racehorse to Riding Horse seminar at 7pm on May 25, McLean, who has held a thoroughbred training licence, will share ideas for ways to help horses transition from one career to another. Through his work relating to the natural behaviours of horses, how horses learn, and human-horse interactions, owners and educators will be able to take away a deeper understanding of how to help horses through the racehorse to riding horse transition.

Harness Racing Australia Equine Welfare Officer Kathleen Mullen has been analysing data around the now compulsory deregistration of retired Standardbreds, along with the planning and implementation of further initiatives for Standardbred health, welfare and biosecurity.

Mullen is well-known in the showing world for being the first person to qualify and ride a standardbred in the prestigious Garryowen Equestrienne Turnout event at the Royal Melbourne Show. There, she rode the popular chestnut gelding MF Hollywood whom her family bred and raced before his show ring success.

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