EBTA Statement In Advance of Horseman's Calling - EBTA

In April 2014 the first UK natural horsemanship competition, "Horseman's Calling", took place. EBTA is of the opinion that large demonstrations are poor environments for starting young horses and/or retraining reluctant loaders, and that when you add a competitive element there is the potential for the horses' experiences to be even worse. This was clearly the case in previous, similar NH competitions we have watched in the USA. The organisers of Horseman's Calling claimed that the horses' welfare would be paramount (doesn't every organisation claim that?) and that competitors will be penalised if a "...judge believes a horse to be over faced and/or put under extreme pressure and duress". But we noticed that there were no behaviourists on the judging panel and so how are we to trust that the judges would recognise the signs that a horse is under extreme pressure? These signs are very subtle. If you wait for the bigger signs, as the vast majority of people do, the horse has already been under extreme pressure for some time. A horse appearing "calm and relaxed", particularly one in a stressful environment such as a demonstration, is all too often actually displaying signs of suppression, similarly indicating that he is already under extreme pressure. We therefore have severe concerns about this sort of event and invite judges and competitors to look at our webpage, The Ladder of Fear to remind themselves of the subtle signs of stress that we have highlighted.

For anyone interested in further details about what happened at this event, please see our articles page.

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