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Our past Conferences

Find out more and watch back our Conferences from previous years.

Find out more and watch back our Conferences from previous years.

Conference 2022 – When does use become abuse?

The 2022 conference took place as a hybrid event, with attendees joining us both in person and online, on Thursday 10th November, and can be watched back in full below.

“We all know abuse when we see it. Or do we? Traditionally the idea that we can ‘use but not abuse’ a horse felt like a pretty straightforward mantra, but today the distinction has become a source of controversy. Some believe that any use of a horse is – by definition – abuse, while others believe they have high standards of horsemanship when in reality this is far from true. Traditional practices are increasingly being questioned, and public outrage can erupt when someone falls foul of what may seem like an unwritten code of acceptable horse management. So when the line between ‘use’ and ‘abuse’ can be stark, subtle or even invisible – how do we ensure we stay on the right side? The day will seek to explore this and many more related questions.”

Roly Owers, World Horse Welfare Chief Executive

Conference 2021 – Whose opinion matters?

The 2021 conference took place as a hybrid event, with attendees joining us both in person and online, on Thursday 11th November, with speakers examining ‘Whose opinion matters?’ and can be watched back in full below.

“The sheer volume of opinion out there can be both overwhelming and deafening.  In horse sport, welfare has again sparked fierce debate in the media: from that photo of Gordon Elliot to revelations in Panorama to treatment of horses in Modern Pentathlon at the Olympics, but strong views can be found wherever horses come into contact with people. But whom should we listen to?

“The challenge for all of us is to distinguish the signal from the noise, and apply rigour to our own thinking to ensure we heed only the opinions that deserve to influence us.  This can be a challenge both mentally and emotionally as all around us conflate fact and opinion and even the meaning of truth is up for debate. What is the role of objective evidence in our decision making?  Do the loudest or oldest opinions drown out the most informed?  How open are we to views that challenge our own way of seeing?  And when – if ever – should opinion overrule fact?  I hope you agree that this is a very pertinent debate that should engage a lively discussion.”

Roly Owers, World Horse Welfare Chief Executive

Conference 2020 – The horse-human partnership – What’s in it for the horse?

The 2020 conference took place online on Thursday 12th November, with speakers covering a wide range of topics around the horse-human partnership, and can be watched back in full below.

“We believe that our relationship with horses is based on a partnership with huge benefits to humankind – but if this is a true partnership how much do our horses really benefit from it? 

“More importantly, how do we ensure they receive the benefits they deserve?  We might provide food, protection from harm and disease, veterinary treatment and perhaps even a job or degree of companionship, but is this all a horse needs for a good life?  When we say we ‘put the horse first,’ what does this really mean?  

“More evidence comes to light almost daily about the evolutionary path of horses, sentience, cognition and behaviour, but how does this stack up against our traditional practices?  And what should be expected from us and society if the partnership goes wrong? 

“Despite our virtual setting this should hopefully engage a fascinating discussion.”

Roly Owers, World Horse Welfare Chief Executive

Conference 2019 – Who is responsible?

Watch the footage from the 2019 conference:

Download the full programme

World Horse Welfare’s 2019 conference focused on responsibility for equine welfare, examining just who is responsible and what that means. The event was chaired by George Freeman MP and speakers included Annamarie Phelps, Chair of the British Horseracing Authority; Rachel Murray, Orthopaedic Specialist at Rossdales Veterinary Surgeons; Bronwen Williams, independent trainer and educator; YouTube sensation This Esme; and Inspector Dave Smith, of Kent Police.

The discussion panel examined a responsible approach to equine welfare and comprised racing journalist and broadcaster Mike Cattermole; showjumper Joe Stockdale; vet and British Veterinary Association Ethics and Welfare Advisory Panel member Dr Madeleine Campbell; BBC Sports Correspondent Joe Wilson; New Forest commoner and Foundation for Common Land trustee Lyndsey Stride; and vet and World Horse Welfare Trustee Julie Ross.

Later in the day ‘Charity in Action’ presentations highlighted elements of World Horse Welfare’s current work in the UK and around the world that involves owners, partner charities and governments. The UK Welfare team examined the many layers of responsibility involved in equine welfare; the Campaigns team explored the possibility of improving UK horse health through human behaviour change; and the International team looked at how horse-human partnerships can be improved using behavioural science.

Click on a speaker or discussion section below to watch this year’s Conference back.

Michael Baines, World Horse Welfare Chairman  

Roly Owers, World Horse Welfare Chief Executive

Annamarie Phelps, British Horseracing Authority Chair

Dr Rachel Murray, Rossdales Veterinary Surgeons Orthopaedic Specialist

Bronwen Williams, Independent Trainer and Educator

Part 1 Q&A discussion

ThisEsme, YouTube Star

Inspector Dave Smith, Kent Police

Part 2 Q&A discussion

Discussion panel

HRH The Princess Royal, World Horse Welfare President

Roly Owers, World Horse Welfare Chief Executive 

Conference 2018 – Changing Times

The 2018 theme was ‘Changing Times‘ – and we welcomed a wide range of speakers and discussion panellists who highlighted everything from the need to help people to help horses, the changing trends in equine training methods, the world behind the phenomenon of Gypsy cobs – and of course the possible impacts of Brexit.

The speakers who helped us to explore the themes and topics in 2018 were:

9:45am – Conference opened by World Horse Welfare Chairman Michael Baines – Watch Michael Baines’ Presentation

10:00am – World Horse Welfare Chief Executive Roly Owers gives his view on Changing Times – Watch Roly Owers’ Presentation

10:10am – Why we need to help people if we want to help horses: Utam Kaphle, Executive Director of Animal Nepal – Watch Utam Kaphle’s Presentation

10:25am – Equestrian sport: the good, the bad and the ugly – and where next? Richard Davison, former Olympic dressage rider and World Horse Welfare Trustee – Watch Richard Davison’s Presentation

10:40am – What is the deal with these gypsy cobs? Andrea Betteridge, Founder of the Traditional Gypsy Cob Association – Watch Andrea Betteridge’s Presentation

10:55am – Q&A – Watch the Part 1 Q&A session

11:50am – Seismic shifts? A perspective on Brexit: Tim Collins CBE – Watch Tim Collins’ Presentation

12:00pm – Charities, trust and the broad horizon ahead: Jo Saxton, Nfp Synergy – Watch Joe Saxton’s Presentation

12:10pm – Q&A – Watch the Part 2 Q&A session

12:20pm – Discussion Panel: An embarrassment of vets on ‘changing times’ –  Julian Rishworth, Ebony Escalona, Ben Mayes, Gemma Pearson and Sarah Coombs – Watch the Discussion Panel

Chaired by Nick Powell, Sky News Sports Editor, the discussion panel focused on a number of key topics:

  • The Great Yorkshire Show has adopted a relatively strict policy with regards to rider weight.  How serious an issue is it where riders are mismatched to their mounts?
  • Despite the digital revolution owners still place great trust in their vet.  Given the pivotal role vets play in enhancing equine health and welfare how can they improve communication with their clients?
  • Equine welfare charities have seen a surge in cases involving hard to reach communities over the past few years.  What more could vets be doing to meet this growing challenge?
  • Our understanding of equine behaviour has been transformed over the past few years.  Do artificial aids such as whips and spurs have a place in modern horsemanship?

01:20pm – HRH The Princess Royal – Watch HRH The Princess Royal’s speech

01:30pm – Roly Owers summing up – Watch Roly Owers summing up

Conference 2017 – Invisible Horses of the Future

Watch the conference in full above or click on the below links to watch each speaker.

Conference 2016 – The Invisible Horse

You can skip to the following presentations and panel discussions through the links below:

Conference 2015 – Challenging the Status Quo

You can skip to the following presentations and panel discussions through the links below:

Conference 2014 – What is the Value of Horses?

You can skip to the following presentations and panel discussions through the links below:

Conference 2013 – Horses in the Future

You can skip to the following presentations and panel discussions through the links below:

Conference 2012 – The Importance of Horses in Society Today

Conference 2011 – Olympics 2012: What legacy for horse welfare?

Conference 2010

Conference 2009

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