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ARES Research Seminars: Dr Carol Hall

Flying Pigs, Unicorns and Happy Equine Athletes – Fact or Fantasy?

Dr Carol Hall

In this ARES Research Seminar, Dr Carol Hall (Senior Visiting Research Fellow at Nottingham Trent University) discusses the welfare of the horse in sport, and the concept of the 'happy horse' in dressage and how this can differ to the underlying emotional state.

Past event

Event details

The welfare of the horse in sport has long been a priority for the international governing body, the Fédération Équestre Internationale (FEI), where the concept of the horse as a happy athlete was first introduced.

The rules governing the equestrian sport of dressage were amended at the Global Dressage Forum in 2004 to identify the object of dressage as being the development of the horse into a happy athlete through harmonious education. This concept is still referred to in the FEI guidelines, The Object and General Principles of Dressage and Para Dressage published in November 2022.

However, although there is a description of how this happiness is demonstrated during ridden work, the link between observed behaviour in this context and underlying emotional state is tenuous. Also, there is growing unease about horse welfare issues from both the public and from within equestrian sport and the wider equine sector.

Behavioural evidence of emotional state in horses, the perspective of stakeholders on welfare challenges in equestrian sport and the need for change across the equine sector will be discussed in this seminar.

Whether or not a horse can be a ‘happy athlete’ is questionable. However, unless the work towards this goal continues, increasing public criticism of management, training, and sporting practices will undoubtedly lead to the loss of a social licence to operate.

Booking information

This event is internal only for NTU staff and ARES Postgraduate students.

Virtual Event

Past event

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