Two primary topics were brought to the forefront during the 2024 FEI Sports Forum - equine welfare and the expanded role of equestrians to become the guardians of their horses. These discussions were stimulated by the final report of the Equine Ethics and Wellbeing Commission (EEWC), aptly titled "A good life for horses: a vision for ensuring the future involvement of horses in sport."

A Collaborative Effort

Ingmar de Vos, the FEI President, drove home the necessity of a united front in the industry for the improvement of horse welfare. He observed that it was crucial to remember that horses are living beings that require our highest level of care and respect, not just partners for our sports. De Vos laid significant emphasis on the proposed 62-point welfare strategy by the FEI, which bases itself on the five domains model. The strategy is expected to offer a comprehensive outline for maintaining the wellbeing of competition horses.

Equine Ethics under Scrutiny

The work of the EEWC was in the limelight, drawing attention to equine ethics, and horse welfare within the equestrian community. One of the topics that sparked considerable debate was the practice of Hyperflexion (rollkur). This practice has drawn criticism for its potential negative impact on the wellbeing of horses. Such discussions underline the importance of ongoing research and learning within the industry.

The Equestrian Charter

Talks also revolved around the Equestrian Charter developed by the EEWC and industry stakeholders. As a guiding document, the charter lays down the principles for the high-grade ethical treatment of horses in sport. This includes their physical and emotional wellbeing, socialization, and meeting their natural needs. The responses from stakeholders like National Federations (NFs), trainers, and riders, would be critical in determining the charter's effect on the industry.

Uniting Industry Regulations

Another area of concern was the rules observed by NFs regarding horse abuse cases and the enforcement of these. For maintaining the highest standards of horse welfare, it is key that these rules are clear, applied consistently, and enforced without compromise. The forum also touched on topics like training at home and the registration of trainers in Olympic disciplines. The objective here was to aim for greater transparency and accountability in the industry.

World Horse Welfare's Pivotal Role

The crucial part that World Horse Welfare played in enforcing the FEI equine welfare code of conduct was highlighted during the talks. Their involvement stresses the importance of cooperation among various stakeholders. Working together promotes horse welfare and ensures that the sport remains ethical, and more importantly, sustainable.

Research Leading the Way

The forum further delved into ongoing research related to equine ethics, horse welfare, and the natural needs of horses within the context of international equestrian sport. This research offers essential information necessary to formulate the best practices and drive continuous improvement in the equestrian sport world.

In conclusion, the FEI Sports Forum became the platform for stakeholders to underline the importance of equine wellbeing and the pivotal role of equestrians as their protectors. The deliberations and proposals are expected to play a significant part in the ongoing efforts to enhance horse welfare and promote ethical conduct within the equestrian community.

Based on "Calls for equestrians to be their horses’ guardians – not just their partners" and "Equestrian Industry Urged to Embrace Guardianship Role for Horses: Insights from the FEI Sports Forum".