Gentleman standing in stable yard with five horses wearing old-fashioned rope halters

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


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.


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).


Our first horse rescue centre opens in Britain.


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


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


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


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


HRH The Princess Royal becomes our President.


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. 


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.


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.


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


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


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.  


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

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