A look at what makes “A good life for horses” among conference topics


How to create “A Good Life for Horses” is among the topics under discussion at Companion Animals New Zealand’s conference for 2021, which will be fully virtual this year because of the restrictions imposed by Covid-19.

The free conference “Towards A Good Life”, on October 28 and 29, featured world-renowned experts in animal welfare science.

Among them is Dr Bidda Jones, chief science and strategy officer for RSPCA Australia, who will present “A Good Life for Horses” on the first day. She will look at the role horses play in society, and how steps can be taken to help all horses have a good life.

Jones, an Honorary Associate of the University of Sydney School of Veterinary Science, has led the development of evidence-based policy and advocacy services for the RSPCA for 25 years. A zoologist by training, with a PhD in animal behaviour, her work focuses on improving the welfare of animals in Australian society, across the spectrum of companion animals, animals in sport and entertainment, farm animals and wildlife.

Companion Animals New Zealand's conference speaker Dr Bidda Jones.
Companion Animals New Zealand’s conference speaker Dr Bidda Jones.

Jones has published more than 35 papers, reports and book chapters and represented animal welfare interests on numerous Australian committees and working groups, including the Thoroughbred Aftercare Welfare Working Group and the National Horse Traceability Working Group. In June 2021 she was appointed as a Member of the Order of Australia for significant service to animal welfare science and advocacy.

Associate Professor Ngaio Beausoliel from Massey University will present on the “five domains” of animal welfare, and Professor Natalie Waran, who is the chair of Companion Animals New Zealand, will present the opening address of the conference, laying out the principles of the “good life” philosophy.

Waran is an internationally recognised animal behaviour and welfare scientist based in New Zealand. She gained a first-class Zoology degree from Glasgow University, and her PhD from Cambridge University’s Veterinary School funded by the British Veterinary Association’s Animal Welfare Foundation.

Waran is Professor of One Welfare and an Executive Dean at the Eastern Institute of Technology in Hawke’s Bay, and although she has worked on a range of species and welfare concerns, she has a special interest in horse behaviour and welfare. She has published and spoken on a range of equine-related topics over the past 25 years, and is a co-founder of equitation science and trustee of the associated international society.

Companion Animals New Zealand Professor Nat Waran is among the speakers at the association's 2021 conference.
Companion Animals New Zealand Professor Nat Waran is among the speakers at the association’s 2021 conference.

The programme also includes presentations from Dr Natalie Lloyd, Dr Lindsay Skyner, PhD candidate Erin Jones, Dr Jessica Walker, Dr Heather Bacon, Dr Rowena Pacler, Dr Arnja Dale and Dr Susan Hazel.

New Zealand’s Agriculture Minister, Damien O’Connor, will also make an appearance at the opening of the conference, which is free courtesy of sponsorship by EzyVet.

Since 1995, the biennial Companion Animal Conference has welcomed hundreds of animal professionals, advocates, scientists and scholars from around the world.

» More from the conference

"A Good Life for Horses" is among the topics under discussion at Companion Animals New Zealand's conference for 2021
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