A global conference asking whether horses are Earth’s ‘friend or foe’ features equine experts, politicians and conservationists in a bid to understand the complex and varied relationship between environmental issues, climate change, humans and equids.
Horses have been at our sides since the dawn of human history, playing their part in building civilisations. Alongside us, they have contributed in part to some of the ecological crises we find ourselves in, but they are also part of the solution. World Horse Welfare’s annual conference will explore this wide-ranging and fascinating topic and consider the role horses can play around the world in providing solutions.
The role horses play in causing some of these issues as well as their potential to provide solutions are central to the charity’s 2023 conference, “Horses and the Environment: Friend or Foe?”.
Recognising that horses evolved – as we all did – in nature, and were then domesticated and bred according to our needs, delegates consider how they have been used by humans to build the civilisations, cities and cultures we have today and question what impact this has had on the environment. When do horses – and how we involve them in society today – benefit the environment, and when do they put it at risk? Can a horse be both nature’s friend and a foe? Is there a link between good welfare and a healthy environment? And what is our role in striving to ensure our involvement with horses benefits the planet?
The charity’s President, Princess Anne, The Princess Royal, is expected to attend the conference, which is always a key date in the international equestrian calendar.
This year’s event was chaired by Dr Neil Hudson, MP for Penrith and The Border, and influential speakers and panellists explored the topic, including:
- Senator Pippa Hackett, Ireland’s Minister of State for Agriculture with responsibility for Land Use and Biodiversity.
- Ruth Dancer, Director at environmental sustainability consultancy White Griffin, which specialises in equestrianism and horse racing.
- Dr Alphonse Sene, Director of Equine Development, Ministry of Livestock and Animal Production in Senegal.
- Carol Laidlaw, a Lead Grazing Ranger working for the National Trust at one of Britain’s oldest and most bio-diverse nature reserves.
- Jenny Rogers, Manager and Trustee of Ash Rescue Centre which cares for elderly rescue horses, runs a nature conservation site and rehabilitates wildlife.
The discussion panel further explored the theme with representatives from veterinary medicine, agronomy and sport, including panel guest, FEI president Ingmar de Vos.
The in-person conference took place at the Royal Geographical Society on November 9.
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