Equine Ethics and
Wellbeing Commission


Here you will find the meeting minutes of the Commission

Teleconference meeting 27 February 2023

The Commission discussed and agree upon a number of key documents ahead of the dedicated Session at the FEI Sports Forum 2023, including a draft of the Strategic Approach and the Equestrian Charter.

The Commission also considered the work done by the Education Working Group with the FEI Education and Officials Department, including an addition of a dedicated hub on equine welfare on FEI Campus.

The Commission also expressed a desire to have communication with the Tack and Equipment Expert Group.

The Commission discussed how it would welcome engagement with stakeholders in the equestrian community.

Teleconference meeting 12 December 2022

The Commission discussed the desire to engage further with particular stakeholder groups and considered ways in which this could be done.

A refined version of the interim report presented at the FEI General Assembly was produced along with notes, and placed on the EEWB website. This version can be used for external talks by Commission members to stakeholders to ensure all are using common messages.

National Federations expressed an interest in conducting surveys similar to that conducted by the EEWB, therefore a version of the survey would be shared with Federations to conduct their own research.

The Commission discussed taking its work forward and agreed that it should develop an overarching Welfare Strategic Approach for the FEI based around the priority areas identified by the Commission from the two surveys carried out, the information gathered as well as existing scientific evidence. It also agreed it should develop an Equestrian Charter setting out high level principles to which equestrians should agree to subscribe.

Development of the FEI Educational Modules was discussed, as was the opportunity to identify knowledge gaps in research.

An update on the Early Recommendation regarding harmonisation of measurement of noseband tightness was provided.

Teleconference meeting 1 November 2022

The Commission discussed how it would like to engage with Regional Groups at the FEI General Assembly prior to delivering its presentation, and that the Regional Groups reacted positively to this.

The Commission discussed the structure of its upcoming session at the FEI GA and the materials that would be available on the day through the new EEWB Commission website. The content of the materials was discussed, including the results of the surveys of public and equestrian opinion.

It was agreed the pillars of the strategic approach presented would be:

  • 1. Evidence
  • 2. Education
  • 3. Engagement
  • 4. Effective Regulation
  • 5. Enforcement
  • 6. Empowerment

The Commission agreed on organising two information sessions for judges and stewards during the 2023 Officials Forum in Lisbon and suggested a similar session with athletes.

Teleconference meeting 6 June 2022

The first key point of discussion during the Commission’s inaugural meeting were the Terms of Reference for the work of the group. There was a general consensus that the main purpose of the Commission will be to focus on the welfare of the horse and not on environmental sustainability, while acknowledging the importance of this topic and the related work being done by the FEI and the European Equestrian Federation in this field.

To this end, the Commission decided that it was necessary to reconsider the name of the group and that alternatives would be put forward for consideration at the next meeting.

The Commission acknowledged that two Working Groups may need to be created and consulted (details to be discussed further):

  • Scientific Research Working Group to gather and analyse data that the Commission will use to inform their decision-making.
  • Education and Communication Working Group to consider ways in which to disseminate the Commission’s findings to the equestrian community and members of the public.

Additionally a Survey Working Group composed of the Chair, Professor Visser-Riedstra, Professor Heleski and Jessica Stark was created to work on the design of a questionnaire to be circulated among National Federations, FEI MOUs, national horse welfare organisations, mainstream and equine specialised media, and other stakeholders.

The Commission agreed to the following work plan and timings:

Stage 1: June to November 2022

  • A first report will be presented by the Chair to the 2022 FEI General Assembly which will take place from 9 to 13 November in Cape Town (RSA).

Stage 2: December to April 2023

A second report will be presented to delegates during the 2023 FEI Sports Forum that will be held in Lausanne (SUI) in April. Stage 3: May to November 2023
  • A final report will be presented by the Chair to the 2023 FEI General Assembly in Mexico (MEX).

With regards to Communication of the Commission’s work, members agreed on the need for transparency and consistency and that for clarity, the Commission should communicate with ‘one voice’. The Commission acknowledged that the Chair would be the main spokesperson.

Finally the Commission agreed to design a questionnaire to be circulated among National Federations, FEI MOUs, national horse welfare organisations, mainstream and equine specialised media, and other stakeholders.

Teleconference meeting 20 June 2022

Following the approval of the minutes of the previous teleconference and the Commission Terms of Reference, members agreed on changing the name of the group to the Commission for Equine Ethics and Wellbeing. Commission members were also informed about the work of the FEI Tack and Equipment Expert Group, which was created in 2020, to ensure harmonisation across the FEI disciplines on the equipment approval process and rationale. The FEI Equipment Expert Group is composed of FEI staff, veterinary, scientific and equine behavioural experts who are all involved in the consultations during the equipment approval process and is led by the FEI Legal Director.

The Commission also made the following key decisions:

  • The Chair of the Commission to begin consultations with the FEI Legal Director as the conclusions and recommendations of the Commission will impact the standards used for approval for tack and equipment by FEI Equipment Expert Group.
  • The FEI to provide the Commission with a review of the current FEI Horse Welfare Rules.
  • The Commission to begin an internal review of the social license practices of other equestrian organisations.
  • The Survey Working Group to provide the Commission with a draft of relevant questions for the survey.
Teleconference meeting 5 July 2022

The Commission agreed on conducting two separate surveys targeting the equestrian community and the general public.

The survey created for National Federations, Athletes, Officials and MOU Stakeholders, has been designed to capture baseline information among equestrian stakeholders who have an interest in horses and use horses for leisure and/or sport. The questions are aimed at determining the main concerns of the community and how these should be tackled in the short to long term.

The Commission members agreed that the survey for the equestrian community needs to be disseminated to as many people across the community as possible, and should be simple and translatable into different languages.

It was agreed that the second survey will target individuals who are not involved with, or knowledgeable about, horses to determine the public perception regarding the use of horses generally, and also in sport. It was decided that this survey will be carried out by a specialised third party.

In-person meeting 3 & 4 August

The first in-person meeting of the Commission, held at the FEI HQ in Lausanne (SUI), was an opportunity for members of the Commission to hear more about the work of the different FEI Departments. The Commission discussed presentations from the Communications, Education, Veterinary and Legal departments of the FEI regarding engagement and communication, education of FEI Officials, effective regulations and enforcement of rules and regulations.

The Chair of the Commission also introduced the concept of the Equine Ethics and Wellbeing Framework and Dashboard which will help monitor the progress being made in relations to Social License to Operate in the long term.

Some of the key points of discussion over the two days were are follows:

  • Consideration of equestrian’s social license to operate in the context of other sports;
  • Broader development of the Framework to include ethics, sustainability, health & safety, and culture;
  • Evaluation and training of FEI Officials;
  • Continued development of courses and information provided on FEI Campus;
  • Communications at national and international level;
  • Setting of minimum (core) standards of welfare;
  • Expanding the roles and responsibilities of the ECIU.