British Equestrian puts welfare top of the agenda with new advisory body

Friday, 23 December 2022

British Equestrian (BEF) Board has today launched a new independent body to provide guidance and recommendations in the key strategic area of equine wellbeing and standards. The Equine Welfare and Ethics Advisory Group, under the chairmanship of Professor Madeleine Campbell, will work to provide evidence-based best practice, make recommendations on critical issues within equestrian sport and develop guidance to promote an ethical horse/human relationship.

The Group’s composition is representative of expert roles in equestrian sport, equine veterinary science and governance to ensure there is a balance of viewpoints and any recommendations are appropriate and workable. Appointed members of the group are:

Independent Chair: Professor Madeleine Campbell BVetMed (Hons) MA (Oxon) MA (Keele) PhD DipECAR DipECAWBM (AWSEL) MRCVS

  • Jim Eyre, BEF Chief Executive
  • Roly Owers MRCVS, BEF Board Director and CEO World Horse Welfare
  • John McEwen MBE, BVMS MRCVS, BEF Director of Equine Sports Science and Medicine
  • Richard Waygood MBE, BEF Technical Director
  • Iain Graham, British Showjumping Chief Executive
  • Sarah Phillips, BHS Chief Operating Officer
  • Lynne Bailey, BEF Head of Integrity and HR
  • Winnie Murphy, BEF Head of Communications.

John McEwen, BEF Director of Equine Sport Science and Medicine, commented; “I’m delighted that the vision for this group is now a reality. I would like to thank the Board for their direct action to address the serious threat to equestrian sports while ensuring the best wellbeing outcome for the horse. I’m also thrilled that Madeline Campbell has agreed to act as our chair, to have her extensive knowledge and experience brings enormous value to the group.

“This advisory body hasn’t been set up to defend our sports, more to champion further improved welfare standards which will ensure equestrianism and the sports under the control of the BEF member bodies operates in a safe and ethical environment.”

With an initial term to the end of 2023, the Group will cover equine welfare and safeguarding issues and the concept of social licence with the remit to explore how best to support the BEF member bodies. Key areas of responsibility have been identified as:

  • Identifying key threats and challenges, both real and perceived.
  • Identify and collate current issues and consider scientific evidence to support best practice.
  • Provide a Federation-wide strategic overview of equine care, wellbeing and welfare in sport.
  • To identify areas in which further research is needed and identify research priorities.
  • Advise and make recommendations on areas where rule changes should be considered.
  • Advise the BEF on response to welfare issues.
  • Consider mechanisms for systems of equine safeguarding reporting.
  • Engage and collaborate with Member Bodies in the promotion of equine and wellbeing messaging, content and best practice, and strategic reputational work.

Independent Chair of the new group, Madeleine Campbell added; “This is a welcome initiative from British Equestrian, and I was humbled to be asked to chair the group. The equestrian sporting landscape outside racing involves a large and complex range of stakeholders. However, I anticipate that the group will provide clear guidance and a framework for everyone to champion equine welfare in a way which clearly puts the horse’s wellbeing first and foremost and optimizes their care, and ultimately contributes to preserving our sports and to maintaining the social licence to ride and keep horses in the future.”

The Group will meet quarterly in 2023 as well as be available for any assistance with responses on welfare issues. At the end of the year, they will make recommendations to the BEF Board on how the Group’s remit and composition should be shaped to optimise their output towards meeting the key strategic imperative around welfare and equine safeguarding.