The Equine Welfare Compendium

The National Equine Welfare Council launched the third edition of the Equine Industry Welfare Guidelines Compendium at British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA) Congress 2009 in Birmingham.

This third edition reflects the significant changes in animal welfare legislation as well as improved scientific knowledge of welfare issues.

Whilst previous editions were used extensively in supporting welfare investigations and legal proceedings, the new edition is designed to assist anyone responsible for the welfare of horses, ponies and donkeys in meeting their obligations under the new welfare legislation in England, Wales and Scotland.

NEWC Chairman and Head of Welfare at Redwings, Nicolas de Brauwere MRCVS, said: “The Compendium is designed to underpin the Codes of Practice for the Welfare of Equines by providing a greater level of detail and information to enable people to understand how they can best meet the needs of the equines under their care.”

The Compendium was funded, written and produced by the industry, with the full support of Defra and HRH The Princess Royal. It has been made available to the public for no more than the cost of postage. Uptake so far has been very strong, in particular by equine educational institutions such as the vet schools. The industry is keen to also see the Compendium in the hands of horse owners and others responsible for the day to day care of equines. The Compendium is an excellent tool as a reference to assist in raising equine welfare standards nationwide.

Past President of BEVA, Chris House said, “The Compendium is an excellent tool as a reference to assist in raising equine welfare standards nationwide.”

The Equine Industry Welfare Guidelines Compendium is the first document of its kind to set out the minimum standards of care required to appropriately look after a horse. It does not form a statutory code, but is agreed by the industry to be the recommended best practice and where relevant legislation is applicable, it is highlighted in shaded boxes.

Click here to view the document in PDF format.

The Compendium has assisted many groups of people in achieving high standards of horse care, husbandry and welfare, including: prospective horse owners / horse owners – keepers / veterinary surgeons / police officers / welfare inspectors / trading standards inspectors

As well as providing comprehensive information and guidance on all of the above areas, the Compendium provides reference to: Government Publications / Codes of Practice / Advisory Publications / Legal Acts, Orders & publications / Useful Addresses & Contacts

The Compendium has been successfully used in Court as a legal referral document to aid those who are prosecuting people for neglect or cruelty to the horse by clearly identifying the industry agreed best practice.

Since its initial publication in 2002, 50,000 paper copies have been issued across the industry and over 10,000 copies have been downloaded from the internet.

Why do we need it?

The horse industry is committed to ensuring that the welfare of all horses is protected by the adoption of good husbandry practices. The broadest use and implementation of the standards within the Compendium will improve the welfare of horses throughout the UK irrespective of where they are kept and the purposes for which they are used.

Duty of Care

The most significant single influence on the welfare of the horse is the care and management given by the owner or keeper of that horse. They should be able to meet the welfare needs of their horse and be capable of safeguarding them under all foreseeable circumstances.

Owners and keepers of horses have a moral and legal responsibility to care for them and to ensure their physical and mental well being.