British racing is proud of its record on horse welfare and the improvements it has made over many years to the safety of horses and jockeys. Nothing is more important than the safety of our participants.
In order to ensure that we do all we can to improve welfare standards, British racing has established an independently-chaired Horse Welfare Board to produce a strategy that unites the whole industry and drives continuous improvement.
Membership and structure
The Horse Welfare Board includes representatives from the sport’s tripartite structure of the BHA, racecourses and horsemen. Its independent chair, Barry Johnson, is a former President of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons. Former Sports Minister, Tracey Crouch, is our other independent member.
Membership of the Horse Welfare Board is currently as follows:
The Board reports to the sport’s tripartite Members’ Committee, where the BHA, racecourses and participants share responsibility for the industry’s strategy and decisions not reserved to the regulator.
The Board will make recommendations to the Members’ Committee, specifically including a multi-year strategy for improving welfare and for developing more effective communication on matters relating to animal welfare. It will be for the Members’ Committee to approve the new industry strategy for animal welfare.
“A life well-lived” – British racing’s Horse Welfare Strategy
In February 2020, the Welfare Board published its five-year strategic plan for the welfare of horses bred for racing.
The strategy focuses on the ambition that every horse bred to race should lead – and be seen to lead – “a life well-lived”. The strategy includes traceability for horses bred for the sport, a strong focus on safety and wellbeing, a more confident and proactive approach to communications and the industry’s biggest ever data project.
The announcement can be seen here.
20 recommendations and 26 specific projects were put before the Members Committee, which comprises horsemen, racecourses and the BHA.
The strategy focuses on four key outcomes:
- Best possible QUALITY OF LIFE, relating to the encouragement and furthering of best practice in all aspects of health, care, husbandry and disease control.
- Collective LIFETIME RESPONSIBILITY, incorporating, for example, traceability across the lifetimes of horses bred for racing, and initiatives fostering greater understanding, encouragement and effective enforcement of responsibility
- Best possible SAFETY, the understanding and analysis of multiple risk factors and the continuing reduction of reasonably avoidable injuries and fatalities.
- Growth and maintenance of public TRUST
The strategy also identifies the value of data in informing veterinary care and the prevention of injury and illness. It articulates the ethical case for horses’ participation in sport and leisure and the need for better use of high-impact communications to tell racing’s story. It also commits to develop a Code of Ethics to provide a transparent framework for decision-making around all aspects of a racehorse’s care and wellbeing.
Strategy implementation team
In May 2021, the HWB announced the appointment of an impressive programme team responsible for taking forward the board’s work.
The roles are being funded by the Racing Foundation, as part of their commitment to supporting horse welfare as a key area of focus within the industry.
Helena Flynn | Programme Director
Helena has worked at senior level in a number of major global organisations, most recently as Global Head of Brand for Jaguar Land Rover. Previously Global Head of PR for British Airways, Helena has managed a number of major sports sponsorships, as well as leading the airline’s response to reputational and crisis issues.
Mike Etherington-Smith | Equine Safety Advisor
Mike’s role is to work with racing to address safety and minimise reasonably avoidable risk to the sport’s equine participants. He is an internationally renowned designer in Eventing, including as Course Designer at the Sydney 2000, Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.
Stephen Wensley | Welfare Data Projects Lead
Stephen Wensley works across a number of key stakeholders to help plan and coordinate the various welfare data projects prioritised in the HWB strategy. With more than 20 years’ experience in the financial, media, data and information industries, including 12 years as a Senior Project Manager with Thomson Reuters, Stephen will help ensure that racing’s work in the welfare space is underpinned by robust evidence and data.
Francesca Compostella |Project Manager (Aftercare)
Francesca’s role is to lead the ‘Aftercare’ aspects of the Welfare Strategy, bringing the aftercare review recommendations to fruition.
Contact the Horse Welfare Board
External bodies and participants with a clear interest in improving the welfare of racehorses are welcome to contact the Horse Welfare Board via their dedicated email address: email@example.com