Our History

We have been improving the lives of horses in the UK and around the world since 1927.

We have been improving the lives of horses in the UK and around the world since 1927.

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

The 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.

Our timeline

1927

Ada Cole founded the International League Against the Export of Horses for Butchery 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. The charity’s name is changed to the International League for the Protection of Horses (ILPH).

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

HRH The Princess Royal becomes our President.

1996

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. 

2007

Regulation (EC) No 1/2005 comes into force, improving conditions for horses transported long distances 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 an 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.

2014 

World Horse Welfare hosts the The 7th International Colloquium on Working Equids.

2015

At the request of the European Commission, the charity and Eurogroup for Animals publishes the report ‘Removing the Blinkers: the health and welfare of European Equidae in 2015’, the first document setting out the scope, scale and welfare challenges of the European equine sector.  

Today

We continue to grow as an international charity, advocating for better horse welfare standards worldwide which providing front-line care and addressing the root causes of welfare problems through campaigns and education.

How every £1 you donate is spent

  • 70p directly helps horses
    70p
    Directly helps horses
  • 30p is for fundraising
    30p
    Is for fundraising

Help us improve the welfare of horses in the UK and worldwide

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