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Striding out on horse welfare in a social media world

February 2019 by Horses and People

A world-first cross-sector professional development event for racing and equestrian people is set to be held on February 13 and 14, 2019, in Hahndorf, South Australia. The event ‘Sport Horse Welfare and Social Licence to Operate’ will provide an opportunity to examine the ‘why and how to’ of state-of-the-art welfare assessment, plus the role of social licence to operate in the context of horse sports.

Positions are still available to attend this event - Click here to find out more.

The keynote presenter and workshop facilitator is Emeritus Professor David Mellor, of Massey University, New Zealand, a world-renowned animal welfare scientist.

Horse industry insights into the lived experiences of advocating for and implementing continuous improvement in welfare programs will be shared by Martin Burns, of New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing, and Dr Andrew McLean, an equine behaviour specialist who engages with national equestrian federations throughout the world.

Viewpoints on social licence to operate and its impacts will be discussed in presentations by Julie Fiedler, Candidate for Masters of Communication, CQ University, and Gail Fairlamb, Director for the Office of Digital Engagement in the South Australian Government.

“This event provides a constructive exercise in discovering positive aspects of sport horse welfare” said Professor Mellor. “We look at how to apply the Five Domains Model to help understanding of welfare, raise awareness of when welfare is positive or could be improved, and as a tool to evaluate horse welfare plans.”

"This forum will ensure growth in the network of expertise in equine welfare, and foster thinking that will shape both equine policy and practice." said Martin Burns.

“Awareness about social licence to operate is growing, as horse sport organisations adjust to greater public scrutiny about decision-making in relation to horse welfare”, said Julie Fiedler, Executive Officer for Horse SA and event coordinator. “Also, there is an increasing awareness that if the welfare of horses in the workplace and on the sporting field is better understood, this may directly improve rider and handler safety.”

To date 50 delegates have registered to attend from all States of Australia, as well as from Hong Kong and New Zealand. Representatives from Thoroughbred and harness racing, equestrian sports, pony clubs, riding centres and universities are joining horse industry business and social leaders for what is set to be a landmark gathering.

The event is hosted by Horse SA, a non-profit organisation working with horse owners and organisations on a wide range of common interest topics, including welfare, recreational trails and land care.

Positions are still available to attend this event. Information is available on

Enquiries: Julie Fiedler   Mobile 0402488306    Email:
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