Friday, November 13, 2009

A Week of New Equine Welfare Initiatives

A great week for equine health and welfare, as two notable collaborations of horsepeople made strides towards a better future for America's equine population.

In Massachusetts, four racehorses retired from Boston's Suffolk Downs were moved this week to the newly incepted Plymouth County Sherrif's Farm, where inmates of MA corrections facilities will train and care for them and future retired charges. This program, sponsored and initiated by the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation and Suffolk Downs president Richard Fields, provides a dual benefit to the Plymouth County community. It's positive impact will extend to both the ex-racehorses lucky enough to take up residence there during their rehabilitation, and the program's inmate groom/trainers, who can use the program to gain certification in various backstretch vocations.

And in national news, a National Equine Welfare Code of Practice received endorsement from the American Association of Equine Practitioners, the American Quarter Horse Association, the Kentucky Thoroughbred Association, the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, the U.S. Equestrian Federation, and the U.S. Trotting Association. The American Horse Council (AHC) drafted the Code to "outline in generic terms what it means for an organization to be committed to the responsible breeding, training, care, use, enjoyment, transport, and retirement of horses...and also provide a guide for equine organizations that are formalizing a welfare philosophy and policy for their respective organizations." Jerry Black, DVM, chair of the AHC's Animal Welfare Committee and ex-president of the AAEP, describes the initiative as a "'a standard for the horse industry and equine organizations to evaluate their individual welfare policies and initiatives...[which] clearly states the principles necessary to achieve a level of stewardship for the horse that always puts the welfare of the horse first."

Kudos to everyone involved with the development of these horse friendly initiatives for enacting positive change and development in the equine industry!

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