Equine Ethics and
Wellbeing Commission

The FEI believes that all who are involved with horses should be aware of the responsibility they have for horse welfare, as well as the impact that equestrian activities and horses have on the environment.

In June 2022, in response to growing public concern over global challenges such as climate change, resource use and animal welfare, the FEI instigated a new independent ‘Social Licence’ Commission to address societal concerns related to the use of horses in sport.

The Commission was tasked with addressing societal concerns about the use of horses in sport and creating a blueprint to future-proof equestrian sports, as well as providing independent advice and recommendations to the FEI to ensure equine welfare is safeguarded through ethical, evidence-based policy and practices.

“Equestrian sport and the FEI’s activities are more than ever under public scrutiny and through the Commission we want to embrace that scrutiny to drive change and shine the spotlight on our number one stakeholder – the horse."

“There are comprehensive systems and mechanisms in place to protect the welfare of the horse, but there is more that can be done, and more that must be done. And in an ever-changing society, where perceptions shift and norms evolve at an increasingly fast pace, the FEI must address these concerns and criticisms from society and within equestrian circles in a clear and transparent manner."

“This is our duty as the governing body, and this is why we have set up this important and independent Commission to allow us to move forward with a course of action that will strengthen equestrian’s place in society.”

FEI President Ingmar De Vos (BEL)

Who were the Commission members?

The 10-person Commission was chaired by Professor Dr. Natalie Waran (NZL), an internationally respected equine behaviour and welfare expert, and Professor of One Welfare and Executive Dean at the Eastern Institute of Technology (Te Pūkenga) in New Zealand.

There were five members of the Commission who were external to the FEI, and five FEI nominated representatives.

Following consultation with, and recommendations by respected equine welfare and veterinary organisations, invited external members were selected for their expertise in equine welfare, equitation science, ethics, education and public affairs.

The FEI nominated members werechosen for their considerable experience in their area of FEI responsibility, and to provide the athlete and official viewpoint.

Professor Dr. Natalie (Nat) Waran

External Expert & Chair of the Equine Ethics & Wellbeing Commission

Natalie Waran is an internationally recognised animal behaviour and welfare scientist currently based in New Zealand. She gained a first class Zoology (...)

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Professor Dr. Kathalijne Visser

External Expert & Member of the Equine Ethics & Wellbeing Commission

Kathalijne Visser was appointed Professor (UAS) of Human-Animal Interactions at the Aeres University of Applied Sciences in Dronten (NED) in 2020. She (...)

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Dr. Camie Heleski

External Expert & Member of the Equine Ethics & Wellbeing Commission

Camie Heleski received her PhD in Animal Science with a specialisation in equine behaviour and welfare, and an MSc in Animal Science (...)

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Professor Madeleine Campbell

External Expert & Member of the Equine Ethics & Wellbeing Commission

Madeleine Campbell is a Veterinary Surgeon, an EBVS® Veterinary Specialist and a RCVS Recognised Specialist in Animal Welfare Science (...)

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Jessica Stark

Member of the Equine Ethics & Wellbeing Commission

Jessica Stark is the Director of Communications and Public Affairs for World Horse Welfare. In this position she leads the team responsible (...)

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Cayetano Martínez de Irujo

Member of the Equine Ethics & Wellbeing Commission

Cayetano Martínez de Irujo, an international jumping athlete from Spain, was the President of the International Jumping Riders Club (...)

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Ken Lalo

Member of the Equine Ethics & Wellbeing Commission

An Arbitrator at the Court of Arbitration of Sport (CAS) since 2011, Ken Lalo is currently in his sixth term as President of the Israel Equestrian (...)

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Theo Ploegmakers

Member of the Equine Ethics & Wellbeing Commission

Theo Ploegmakers is the current European Equestrian Federation (EEF) President and an FEI Board Member. He was the Vice President (...)

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Cesar Hirsch

Member of the Equine Ethics & Wellbeing Commission

Cesar Hirsch is currently President of the Pan-American Equestrian Confederation (PAEC). Born in Caracas (VEN), Cesar graduated with a Bachelor’s degree (...)

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Sabrina Ibáñez

Member of the Equine Ethics & Wellbeing Commission

Sabrina Ibáñez was appointed FEI Secretary General in January 2015. She was elected President of the Association of Paralympic Sport Organisations (APSO) in September (...)

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What were the aims of the Commission?

The purpose of the Commission’s work was to address issues of public and equestrian concern and develop an evidence based ‘Framework’ to guide FEI regulations, policies and practices, as well as to enable effective advocacy and influence relating to the ethics and wellbeing of horses used in sport.

In line with the Commission’s terms of reference, at the FEI Hybrid General Assembly 2023 in Mexico City (18 to 21 November), the Equine Ethics and Wellbeing (EEWB) Commission submitted their final report – A Good Life for Horses – to the FEI Board. The Report, which points out six areas of focus identified as being of importance to equestrian stakeholders, and includes 30 recommendations developed by the Commission with the use of available scientific literature, extensive public and equestrian survey information and stakeholder feedback, is now being considered and will form part of the discussion and proposed way forward to be presented at the 2024 FEI Sports Forum in Lausanne.

The recommendations include:

  • Develop and implement of a vision statement for ‘A Good Life For Horses’ to influence transformative change in relation to strengthening social licence
  • Develop and implement a robust FEI internal decision-making process to ensure that equine welfare and ethics are genuinely prioritised in the development of FEI policy and in practice.
  • Establish a permanent FEI Equine Ethics and Wellbeing Independent Advisory Committee to act as a ‘critical friend’ and provide an external perspective and independent advice related to the welfare of horses in sport.
  • Create a permanent internal FEI Equine Ethics and Wellbeing body to advocate specifically for the welfare interests of horses in sport.
  • Adopt an evidence-based approach for assessing the impact on horse welfare of new and existing items of tack and equipment in training and competition

Implement additional checks by trained professionals and officials to ensure horses are always ‘Fit to Compete’ by investing in more extensive and stricter health and welfare monitoring pre and post competition to prevent horses entering the competition arena if experiencing pain and/or stress. “The direct and indirect influence through the leadership provided by the FEI, FEI events, equestrians and associated organisations will go a long way to ensuring that the welfare of horses involved in sport is safeguarded, risks to welfare are addressed and mitigated, and the horse’s welfare interests are prioritised at all times.

“We hope that these recommendations will support ongoing social licence to operate through proactively addressing any equine welfare concerns and promoting evidence-based changes where needed to ensure the welfare of sport horses throughout their lives.”

EEWB Chairperson Professor Dr. Natalie Waran (NZL)

What was the Commission’s work approach?

The Commission met for the first time at the start of June 2022, and went on to meet twice a month through online meetings. A two-day ‘in person’ meeting was scheduled in Lausanne (SUI) in August 2022.

Equestrian and public surveys were run in different parts of the world and have been translated into a number of languages. Focus groups were also used to inform the work of the Commission.

Refer to Key Documents for the results to these surveys and pulse groups.

In addition, the Commission consulted with external specialist groups for the latest research, and considered evidence from associated social licence areas as well as information from industry bodies.


The work of the Commission which spanned an 18-month period, was divided into three stages:

Stage 1 (June to November 2022)

A first interim report will be presented by the Chair at the FEI General Assembly in Cape Town (RSA) from 9 to 13 November 2022

Stage 2 (December 2022 to April 2023)

A second draft report will be presented during the FEI Sports Forum in 2023.

Stage 3 (May to November 2023)

A final report will be presented by the Chair to the FEI General Assembly in Mexico.


As the Equine Ethics & Wellbeing Commission have completed their 18-month mandate (June 2022 - November 2023) and delivered their final report to the FEI Board – A Good Life for Horses - please contact the FEI should you have any further questions about the work of the Commission, next steps for the FEI and how their work is being carried forward.