Social Licence to Operate (SLO) is an unwritten agreement between stakeholders and the public, who approve certain practices within their respective industry.
All sectors and industries are dependent on their SLO, and the loss of an industry’s SLO has impacts on all members, stakeholders and participants of said industries. Equestrian industries and sport are no different, and the involvement of animals creates high standards and expectations of us as a sector to maintain our SLO.
At Equestrian Canada (EC), I am responsible for setting the direction of health-, welfare- and industry-related initiatives, all of which underpin and closely relate to the ongoing maintenance of our industry’s SLO.
How do we protect our SLO, you ask? We ensure that our rules and education are based on current and reputable science-based research, and our programs give industry members the tools they need to maintain high standards of equine welfare and development. EC must be the leaders; initiate positive and progressive changes; and provide tools and resources that will continually improve our human and equine relationships in all equestrian activity.
I am so excited about a few projects that we are currently working on right now that mean so much for the health and welfare of our equine partners!
The Equine Health and Welfare Committee is supporting the EC operations team in the implementation of a new rule that reflects the scientific recommendations (Fenner et al. 2016; McGreevy et al. 2012; Randle and McGreevy 2013; Pospisil et al. 2014; Casey et al. 2013; Murray et al. 2015; Doherty 2016) that an equine’s noseband should not be tight enough to prevent the placement of two adult fingers between the noseband and the frontal nasal plane. As the size of two fingers can vary between the person who applied the noseband to the equine and the official assessing compliance with the rule, the committee plans to recommend the standardized use of the International Society for Equitation Science (ISES) Taper Gauge to help ensure consistent measurements and an equine welfare-friendly field of play. The pilot will take place with 25–30 EC Officials at all levels of EC sanctioned competition across the country in 2021.
In addition to the noseband project, the committee will be looking at other very important welfare rules such as whisker and sensory hair trimming. The ongoing integration of science-based rules will continue to be a priority moving forward.
2. Equine Animal Care Assessment Program
The animal care assessment program is a comprehensive three-year project funded by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, through the Canadian Agriculture Partnership, AgriAssurance Program. It will be the tool for active equine facility owners across the country to be recognized for their successful implementation and compliance with the National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC) Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Equines. Through a combination of self-assessment, herd health planning and in-facility assessment, facilities can achieve certification by meeting all the requirements of the code. As a facility, you will be able to assure parents of students, potential clients, boarders and the public of the care equines receive within your facility. The program is completely voluntary and meant to be a tool to demonstrate the quality of your care!
3. Conditioning the Sport Horse
With the launch of the ECampus, we are very excited to integrate education and training that will help improve the welfare of active equines in all stages of development to ensure we increase longevity and minimize wastage. Last year, we were able to develop and integrate the Conditioning the Sport Horse e-learning module, based on the book Conditioning Sport Horses by Dr. Hilary M. Clayton. Proper, physiologically appropriate conditioning can help prevent injuries and ensures equine athletes are physically ready for the activities they participate in.
The module walks through the basic principles of equine conditioning, including cardiovascular and strength conditioning education. This course is an introduction to science-based equine athlete conditioning and will be a key foundation to developing discipline-specific conditioning programs and e-learning modules down the line! We are striving to include sequel conditioning courses, care and management course and equine learning theory, all in the ECampus.
The future is bright for our equestrian sport, and it is up to all of us to adapt and change to keep our SLO strong.
Want to learn more? We are very grateful to have Roly Owers, Chief Executive Officer of World Horse Welfare, giving a presentation entitled Social License in Equestrian Sport as our June Active Equine Health & Welfare National Calls: be sure to tune into learn more about SLO and how it relates to the equestrian industry.
This post originally appeared on Equestrian.ca.