Top-level ‘summit’ at Belwade

Belwade Farm has taken in more than 35 horses in the last four months alone.
Belwade Farm has taken in more than 35 horses in the last four months alone.

Leading experts and professionals from the equestrian community will meet in Aboyne next week to discuss the challenges facing Scotland’s horse population.

The event at World Horse Welfare Belwade Farm Rescue and Rehoming Centre on Wednesday is organised by the British Horse Society (BHS) Scotland in association with World Horse Welfare and the Scottish Government.

It will tackle a number of topics from the risks posed by exotic diseases to issues around identity fraud in the trade of low value equines.

Roly Owers, chief executive of World Horse Welfare, will provide an insight to Britain’s horse crisis – looking at issues of indiscriminate breeding and its impact on welfare charities which are increasingly being stretched to maximum stocking levels.

Belwade Farm has taken in more than 35 horses in the last four months alone, which is more than half of its yearly stocking level and many as a result of indiscriminate breeding.

Centre manager Eileen Gillen said: “Not only does indiscriminate breeding result in huge numbers of horses being abandoned or left to fend for themselves, but it can also have a devastating effect on the horses’ conformation and their potential to be comfortable and free from pain.”

Professor Natalie Waran, Jean Marchig professor of animal welfare education, will discuss the issues of horses as athletes and how they compete in sport, while Dr Richard Newton, from the Animal Health Trust, will review the threat of exotic diseases and the importance of good biosecurity in preventing outbreaks.

A representative of World Horse Welfare will give an update on issues of identity fraud in the trade of low value equines and Nick Ambrose, from the Scottish Government, will review the practical implications of the new equine ID regulations and central equine database.

Roly Owers said: “This welfare conference is an important platform to raise and address the key challenges facing Scotland’s equine population.

“It’s definitely set to be an interesting and enlightening day so I’d urge anyone with an interest in equine welfare to get their tickets booked and I look forward to seeing many people there.”

All debates and discussions will be chaired by BHS Scotland chairman and leading veterinarian Professor Derek Knottenbelt.

Tickets are £20 each for members of a charity, and £50 for others.