The British Horse Society Notes for the Welfare of Horses and Ponies at Events
· In these notes, “horse” refers to all equidae and should, where the context allows, be taken to mean
“horse or horses”.
· These notes should be used in conjunction with The British Horse Society Code of Practice for the
Welfare of Horses and Ponies at Events.
· Under the Animal Welfare Act (2006) and the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006, every
horse owner or any individual responsible for a horse, has a ‘duty of care’ to ensure the animal’s welfare.
· All horse owners and show staff are encouraged to read the ‘Strategy to Eradicate and Prevent
Strangles (STEPS)’, available from the BHS Welfare Department.
· Competitors need to be aware of The Welfare of Animals During Transport Council Regulation (EC) No
1/2005 (see points 3.1-3.2).
· General animal welfare provisions apply on all journeys.
· Horses being transported to a show must be accompanied by their passport.
· Show organisers may request that horses attending the show are vaccinated against tetanus and
influenza (see point 4.3).
5. Welfare of Horses
5.1 Responsibilities of Owners/Keepers/Competitors
· Overall responsibility for the horse lies with the individual who has charge of the horse on the day of the
· No horse should be ill treated in any way on the showground.
5.2 Provision of Feed and Water
· The horse should be offered water regularly throughout the day, especially during hot weather. The
horse should not be offered ice-cold water to drink.
· During long intervals between classes horses should have adequate rest and the opportunity to eat (see
5.3 Welfare of the Horse Whilst Not Competing
· No horse should be left unattended unless they are in the horsebox/trailer, and known to behave sensibly when ordinarily left in such a situation.
· For safety reasons horses should only be tied to a horsebox/trailer if there is a means of the horse being
quickly and safely released.
· Horses should not be tethered on the showground.
· The weather conditions will affect the welfare requirements of the horse (see points 5.3.4-5.3.9).
· Competitors who have hacked to the show should have made prior arrangements for provisions and
equipment to be available (see point 5.3.10).
· No horse should be ridden all day without sufficient breaks (see point 5.3.11).
· Under no circumstances should any horse be kept in a trailer or horsebox over night.
5.5 Age and Gender of Horses
· Horses under 4 years of age should not be ridden.
· Stallions may not be permitted to attend the show. It is the competitor’s responsibility to check individual
· Veteran horses must be in good health and condition, and able to cope with the demands of the show day.
· Pregnant mares should not compete under saddle without the agreement of a veterinary surgeon. No
mare should be ridden after six months of gestation or with a foal at foot.
5.6 Control of Horses
· Young horses will require quiet, confident handling and it is preferable for the young horse to be
accompanied by an older, known experienced horse.
· Horses with strong bonds to their companion should not be left by themselves, as a distressed horse
may become a danger.
· It is good practice to lead horses using a bridle.
· Horses that are known to kick should display a red ribbon in their tail.
· If it is the opinion of the show staff that a horse (in particular a stallion) may cause an accident, the horse
will be disqualified and asked to leave the showground (see point 5.6.6).
6. Conduct and Responsibilities of Competitors
· Competitors must consider the Health and Safety of all persons and horses on the showground.
· When riding outside of arenas, competitors should remain in walk or trot.
· No competitor should behave in an aggressive or offensive manner.
· By entering a class at the show, the competitor has agreed to abide by the rules and guidelines set by
the show organiser.
6.1 Conduct and Responsibilities of Competitors in the Warm-up Arena
· No horse should be asked to spend excessive amounts of time in the warm-up arena.
· Riders should adhere to the rules of working in an arena.
· Lungeing of horses must not at any point interfere with other competitors.
· Galloping is prohibited in the warm-up arena.
· When jumping, no horse should be rapped, jump a fence in the wrong direction or jump a pole/obstacle
being held by hand.
· Any horse that falls should not be allowed to compete without the agreement of a veterinary surgeon.
6.2 Conduct and Responsibilities of Competitors in the Show Ring
· If the horse’s behaviour becomes dangerous the horse may be required to leave the class.
· Competitors should advise the show steward that they have a young or inexperienced horse.
· Blatantly dangerous and irresponsible riding or handling of the horse may result in the competitor being
eliminated from the class.
· The amount of work the horse undertakes should be in accordance with his age, experience and fitness.
7. Discipline of the Horse
7.1 Use of the Whip
· A whip should only be used to reprimand a horse where there is a valid reason and applied at the
appropriate time, in the correct place and with the correct severity (see points 7.1.1-7.1.6).
· There are many circumstances when it is not acceptable for the whip to be used (see point 7.1.7).
· The consequences for the misuse of a whip could result in the competitor being verbally warned or
disqualified. Legal action could be taken under the Animal Welfare Act (2006) and Welfare (Scotland)
7.2 Use of Spurs
· Riders wearing spurs should understand how to wear, apply and use the spurs correctly. Spurs should
not be used to reprimand the horse.
· Spurs of excessively severe design must not be worn (see point 7.2.3).
7.3 Use of Tack
· No item of tack should be used to reprimand the horse (see points 7.3.1-7.3.2).
8. Loading Difficult Horses
· Horses that are difficult to load should be handled in a manner that does not compromise their welfare
(see points 8.1-8.5).
9. Saddlery and Equipment
· The rulebook of the discipline’s governing body should be referred to for information, even when the
show itself is unaffiliated.
· Points 9.2-9.9 relate to the correct use and restrictions of specific tack and training aids.
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