Our history

Antwerp horse


World Horse Welfare was founded in 1927, as a campaigning organisation to prevent the export of live British horses for slaughter.


Ada ColeThe charity's founder, Ada Cole, was spurred into action after witnessing a procession of British work horses being unloaded and whipped for four miles to slaughter in Belgium. From the beginning, she defined our approach - combining practicality with passion.

A decade after our foundation, we achieved our first major milestone - providing protection for British horses being exported for slaughter - this legislation is still in place today. Over the years, we have continued to campaign, while expanding our activities to include welfare and protection around the world.

Other landmark events include the opening of our first horse rescue centre in Britain in 1949 and our first international training course in Morocco in 1985.

You can read our timeline below and you can explore our Facebook album of photos from our archives, set up to celebrate our 85 years of helping horses.

To mark the anniversary we also created a list of 85 ways that we have helped horses since our foundation. 

 

Our timeline

 

1927


Ada Cole founds the International League for the Protection of Horses (ILPH) after seeing work worn horses on the docks of Antwerp destined for slaughter.

 

1937


The ILPH-driven Exportation of Horses Act is introduced which effectively stops the export of live horses for slaughter from Great Britain.

 

1949


Our first horse rescue centre opens in Britain.

 

1952-4


Introduction of Acts protecting horses transported by sea and at slaughterhouses thanks in large part to the ILPH.

 

1950-1965


ILPH engages in activities to improve horse welfare in France, Italy, the Netherlands, Germany, Spain, Greece and South Africa.

 

1978


ILPH rehomes scores of old police horses and pit ponies, emerging as the largest equine rehoming charity in Britain.

 

1985


Our first international training course is launched in Morocco after encouragement from Sir Peter O’Sullevan.

1994


ILPH hands a petition containing 3,286,645 signatures to the European Parliament to demonstrate public feeling against long-distance journeys of horses to slaughter. HRH The Princess Royal becomes our President.

 

2007


Regulation (EC) No 1/2005 comes into force, improving conditions for horses transported long distance to slaughter in Europe. While incorporating some of our recommendations, this legislation still does not go far enough.

 

2008


The ILPH is re-branded as World Horse Welfare. The charity becomes associate member of the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) after almost three decades as their welfare advisors.

 

2010


Written Declaration highlighting the horrific horse slaughter transport trade is adopted by the European Parliament.

 


Today


A leading international charity, we have eight training programmes in place on three continents, and we continue to work to change legislation and attitudes to horse welfare, including through our campaign to end the long distance transportation of horses across Europe to slaughter. Our UK-wide network of Field Officers investigate and resolve welfare problems, and we run four Rescue and Rehoming Centres where horses in need can be rehabilitated and find loving new homes through our rehoming scheme – the largest of its kind in the UK. Find out more about our work.


Read 85 ways that we have helped horses since our foundation.