Horse Care and Welfare

Horses and humans have shared their lives and worked together for thousands of years. We love and respect horses as sentient creatures who enrich the lives of humanity, and are proud to work with the very best equestrian professionals.

Our international stars perform all over the world, with exceptional standards of ethics, horse care and horsemanship at the heart of what they do. They are all widely critically, professionally and artistically acclaimed. Horses have the required training, temperament and confidence for sport and demonstrations in front of large audiences. Vet checks are carried out on entry and exit from the UK. Horses are travelled safely and extremely carefully with fully qualified transport teams who ensure feed, water, rest, ventilation and total comfort.

Constant improvement in the way we work with horses is imperative. By showcasing world class performers, we want to be part of the progressive welfare movement. Seeing truly elite and gifted equestrians has huge value for both horse riders and the general public, it contributes to the conversation, and inspires us to all to keep improving our relationship with the horse as a partner. Demonstrations and talks also take place at The Festival with trainers who focus on behavioural and ethological horse welfare and education.

Vets and farriers are on call throughout the show. Our Equine Facilities Officer is dedicated to ensuring maximum welfare for the horses. We operate within all relevant licenses and regulations, all inspections facilitated. Any individual with concerns is very welcome to communicate with us should they have questions.

World Horse Welfare fully approve working with horses as long as well-being and welfare is a priority. They do not feel that horses should just be in fields, but that in partnership, man and human can enjoy a mutually beneficial relationship improving quality of life for all. Here in the UK the two major governing bodies are the British Equestrian Federation (BEF), and the International Equestrian Federation (FEI). Huge changes have been implemented in the past decade especially, ensuring horse sport, art, and performance is streets ahead of years gone by, standards and knowledge continue to consistently advance. Greater attention is paid to mental as well as physical well being, and there is a vastly improved understanding of, and commitment to ethical training that is kind and beneficial to the horse. We adhere to, and exceed all requirements of UK and European legislation through which horses are given excellent protection.

The Charter for the Horse - we fully support this new charter launched in March 2024, by the British Equestrian Federation. We join others including 19 official equestrian organisations pledging to this charter for the ethical and fair treatment of all horses and other equids under our care in the following six areas;

  1. Empathy: Recognising horses are intelligent and emotional beings, we always prioritise their mental and physical health and overall wellbeing.
  2. Care: Throughout their entire life, during exercise and rest, we offer horses a secure and suitable setting to create positive experiences that address their social, behavioural, nutritional and physical needs for a high quality of life.
  3. Respect: Through compassionate, mindful, patient and empathetic interaction, we foster positive relationships with horses based on trust and respect.
  4. Consideration: Each horse is an individual, and we strive to understand and meet their specific needs, including how they learn. We don’t push horses beyond their health, fitness or ability levels, and we never let competitive or commercial influences compromise their welfare.
  5. Ethics: In all our equine interactions, whether for leisure, training or sport, we adhere to the highest standards of equine welfare, safety, equipment, veterinary care and biosecurity, always guided by ethical principles.
  6. Learning: Through continuously improving our equine knowledge, we evolve our behaviours based on education and informed advice from qualified professionals and the broader equestrian community.

Social licence to operate (SLO) is a key influence in today's ethical horsemanship. Where activities are accepted by wide society, and also adhere to all relevant rules and regulations, then sport and performance is deemed acceptable legally, socially and morally. This subject has undergone significant research by relevant governing bodies and universities to ensure all interested parties have suitable guidelines to follow and understand the significant issues. The horse industry is vibrant and professional here in the UK, with over 1.5 million regularly riding, and millions enjoying watching equestrian sports. It is mainstream and widely supported.

The Iberian horse is very much a working animal, they are certainly not pets. With their ancient history of hundreds of years working alongside man in all sorts of activities, and the continuation on the Iberian peninsula of horses still today being used in the fields for work, they have a natural desire to work, and to interact and partner with humans. These are horses that can be extremely discontent left in a field with no communication and purpose. They thrive on connection with humans, forming bonds that are clear to see, even for non horse owners. Perhaps the comparison to a working collie is useful - that innate and powerful desire to be active, to play, to work, to be alongside and together with their human is part of their very being. The standard of professional horsemanship on the Iberian Peninsula is truly exceptional, again in part because of the continuation of horses being working animals, but also because of the traditions still today of Classical Horsemanship which requires a true connection and communication with the horse working in harmony with their nature. Across the world, there is very much a resurgence of the classical, kinder way of training horses as seen in Spain and Portugal.

Daytime competitors are issued with a set of rules and guidelines and monitored by stewards and the Equine Facilities Officer. Any one compromising the care or welfare of a horse would be required to leave. All equestrians are further governed by rules and standards set out by breed societies, sports authortities, the British Horse Society, the BEF and the FEI.

The Arena is a modern, eco friendly wax surface, biomechanically tested to prevent against lameness as absorbs initial hoof impact and disperses that energy.

With our first love being horses, their wellbeing is a fundamental to the Festival. Additional to the above, all owners, riders, performers and wider team, ensure for example the highest standards including but not limited to specific aspects below;

Collapsible content

Correct feed and water

Adequate exercise, fitness and workload levels

Sufficient human care and contact

Quality training that does not inflict pain, suffering or injury

Quality, safe stabling, tack and equipment

Treating each horse individually

Protecting horses confidence

Prompt veterinary care when needed

Understanding of horse behaviour and pyschology

Minimising noise in the stables especially at night time ensuring horses can rest

Placing horse welfare before the needs of an audience where required, for example in relation to the care of arena surfaces for their safety

Suitable event management plans in the event of emergencies