Equine Ethics and
Wellbeing Commission

What is the 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.

At the inaugural meeting, members decided that the name, Equine Ethics and Wellbeing Commission, better reflects the aims and mission of the group’s work.

As FEI President Ingmar De Vos said, “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.”

Who are the Commission members?

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

There are five members of the Commission who are 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 have been chosen 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 are the aims of the Commission?

The purpose of the Commission’s work is to address issues of public and equestrian concern so as to ensure the welfare of the horse is paramount, and that there is ongoing social acceptance of the involvement of horses in sport.

The Commission will 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.

What is the Commission’s work approach?

The Commission met for the first time at the start of June 2022, and now 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 are being run in different parts of the world and have been translated into a number of languages. Focus groups are also being used to inform the work of the Commission.

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


The work of the Commission will initially span an 18-month period and will be 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.


If you have questions about the work of the Commission, please fill in the form below and we will be in touch as soon as possible.

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