Horses are integral to our sport and as such their welfare is paramount. Our aim should always be for the horses to be willing partners. As a member of the IHAA, the BHAA adheres to the IHAA rule book which includes rules that contribute to equine welfare with the sport (referenced below).
Code of conduct:
Training and riding – This should be without the use of fear and force, ideally adhering to LIMA principles (Least Intrusive, Minimally Aversive). BHAA also supports the use of the training principles advocated by the International Society for Equitation Science (ISES Training Principles (equitationscience.com). Within the competition setting there are strict rules regarding the use of spurs and crop (3.6) and a strict ‘no blood’ rule (13.2.1) encompassed under point 13.2 – Unnecessarily rough or cruel handling of the horse is forbidden. This also applies to training sessions.
Tack – This must always be well-fitting and comfortable for each individual horse. It must not be restrictive – the horse must be able to have a free head carriage (3.9). Where used, there must be a gap of at least 1.5cm between the horse’s nasal plate and a noseband (3.10). There are no restrictions on the type of saddle used (3.7) but it should be a comfortable fit for the horse wearing it.
Health and fitness – Horses should be both physically and mentally fit enough for the level of competition/training that they are at. This encompasses having had both adequate training and experience prior to competitions (4.1). They should be in an acceptable Body Condition Score for their level of fitness (not over or under-weight), with attention also paid to good hoof care and regular dental checks. It is strongly recommended that there are no more than 2 riders per horse at a competition (4.6). The particular horse must be chosen to reflect the rider’s ability, height and weight.
With regard to injury prevention during sessions section 8 of the rules deals with Track requirements to minimise risks to both horse and rider.
Awareness of equine ethology – Horses are herd animals and consideration must be given to this during competitions and group training sessions. Individual horses should not be left at either end of the run unless there is prior agreement with the rider that they are able to cope with this and a suitable running order for the horses should be agreed between the riders. Riders should be aware of others around them and be prepared to act accordingly if a horse is becoming distressed. Riders should have an awareness of equine body language and facial expression so that they can recognise when a horse is in pain, fearful or not coping. Understanding how horses learn and paying attention to their behaviour are important elements of good training.
Anti-doping stance – As a member of FITE the IHAA upholds the FEI rules on fair play and clean sport for the human and equine athletes.
The BHAA takes the welfare of their equines seriously. If any members or coaches have a concern regarding equine welfare, in the first instance, they should discuss it with their coach or club committee. If issues cannot be resolved, please contact the BHAA.