Rare breeds and equine obesity explored in National Equine Forum webinars

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Dartmoor ponies. A webinar hosted by the National Equine Forum will look at the magnitude of the decline of the UK’s native breeds and how their future can be safeguarded.
Dartmoor ponies. A webinar hosted by the National Equine Forum will look at the magnitude of the decline of the UK’s native breeds and how their future can be safeguarded. Image by Sue Porter

Next year’s National Equine Forum (NEF) has moved to a virtual format because of restrictions posed by the global pandemic.

The forum in March will be preceded by a topical series of online events, starting with two special interest webinars next month, one on saving rare breeds and the other on equine obesity.

“It has been an extraordinary and difficult year for all of us,” said Tim Brigstocke, Chair of the National Equine Forum.

“While it is disappointing not to be able to provide a live, in-person forum, the organising committee has been hard at work putting together an engaging, topical and educational series of online events, culminating in the 29th National Equine Forum.”

The forum is themed “Positivity and Progress” and will be held on Thursday, March 4, 2021. The morning session will provide critical insight into welfare, trade and biosecurity, followed by positive innovations for the sector, borne from Covid-19. The afternoon session will provide updates from the two special interest webinars, a session on how new technology is helping riders and a revisit to access and accidents (last covered at #NEF18), with amendments to The Highway Code as a timely and important update.

Tickets are priced at £5 for each webinar and £10 for the forum.

The first webinar will take place on Wednesday, January 13, at 7pm (GMT). Just in Time – Using Science to Save our Breeds will be delivered by industry leaders, with opportunities for discussion and questions from the audience. Speakers will look at the magnitude of the decline of the UK’s native breeds and how their future can be safeguarded. The impact of the extinction vortex on the natural world and how it applies to equine breeds will be covered and the challenging situation of inbreeding in Thoroughbreds explored.

The advantages of DNA analysis will be debated, to show how science can provide breed societies and breeders with keystone support to guide decisions that can increase effective populations. This will be endorsed with a case study to show proof of concept that breeds in decline have a chance to be saved when genomics and kinship analysis are utilised.

The Great Weight Debate (equine), on January 27 at 7pm (GMT) will take a practical look at different perspectives on equine weight management from across the equestrian sector, including the views of a horse owner, livery yard owner and coach, an equine welfare officer, an equine vet, a nutritionist and a competition judge.

The panel of speakers will aim to identify what is preventing owners/carers from managing horse weight effectively, despite many previous and ongoing attempts from the industry to effect change. They will also explore how any obstacles may be overcome and the discussions will be supported by a human behaviour change researcher. Conclusions and possible pathways for change will be presented at #NEF21.

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