More and more horse associations all over the world started discussions about the so-called “Social license to operate” – the concern for the welfare and use of horses, the changing societal attitudes regarding animal use, the increasing public unease about the use of horses in sport and the horse welfare concerns among equestrians.
The keynote speech of the FEIF Conference 2023 will be held by Dr. Michael Weishaupt, University of Veterinary Medicine Zurich, and he will introduce the participants to the topic of the “Social License to Operate”, explain why this topic is important for us, how we should address it and what the most important questions to keep in mind are as we talk and think about this topic, not only at the conference but also for the future. For FEIF and all FEIF member associations it is important to take the initiative and to be seen to optimize and prioritize equine welfare, to understand our responsibility and actively engage with and address concerns.
In an interview with the Icelandic newspaper Morgunblaðið, Gundula Sharman, Director of FEIF YouthWork, stressed the fact that ugly pictures and story about the ill-treatment of horses and accidents on tracks arouses heated feelings and the concern for the welfare of the horses in general – which affects also the leisure rider who rides for pleasure only. The term “social license to operate” refers to an implicit contract between the public and an industry that exploits animals for entertainment or employment. An area where this will affect the Icelandic horse scene is the weight of riders compared to the size of our horses. The discussion currently focusses on the maximum riders’ weight, and it will be important to provide recommendations supported by scientific research.
Another topic for the FEIF Conference will focus on “sexual harassment” – an unacceptable behaviour of making unwelcome and inappropriate sexual remarks or physical advances, intended or not, in any professional or social situation. The presentation and workshop will be run by the Friends Foundation together with representatives of the Swedish Equestrian Federation. It is a topic that should be on the agenda of all FEIF member association and the workshop at the FEIF Conference will offer the opportunity to share ideas on how to work on this topic in a systematic and structured way to prevent and handle any issues.
In an interview with Eidfaxi in the past few days, Jean-Paul Balz already emphasized that our Icelandic horse community will have to take up and discuss many major issues in the coming months and years and that it will be necessary to define solutions and approaches here together. The FEIF strategy process that started in 2022 already will help to define the next steps, the goals and the activities to reach these goals.
We hope to see many representatives from all FEIF member associations at the FEIF Conference 2023 in Stockholm, Sweden.
(Registration is only possible via the different FEIF member associations)