IHAA Equine Welfare statement
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 such there are many references within the IHAA General and Competition 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 Invasive, Minimally Aversive). 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 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 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).
With regard to injury prevention during competition section 8 of the IHAA General and Competition 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.
– As a member of FITE the IHAA upholds the FEI rules on fair play and clean sport for the human and equine athletes.