Improving the Welfare of Horses


Equines (horses, donkeys and their hybrids, and zebras) are perhaps the most versatile animals to have been domesticated by humans. In the wild, they roam the plains; as farm animals they pull and carry loads and are also consumed for their meat, while other equines work in the tourism industry or are used for sport. An individual animal may have different tasks and therefore require distinct legal protection at various stages of its life. Setting up a legal framework to protect the welfare of equines therefore poses a real challenge. However, such a framework is crucial to improving the welfare of these animals since it will facilitate the enforcement of protection regulations. 

The FOUR PAWS European Policy Office calls for the better legal protection of equines. A main issue is the promotion of responsible ownership, spanning the decision to breed to the close of the animal’s life. In addition, a robust system of identification and registration for horses should ensure the full traceability of individual animals. Too often, horses are kept in conditions detrimental to their welfare, simply due to tradition and a misunderstanding of the horse’s needs and behaviours. Launching awareness campaigns and the creation and dissemination of information on the welfare of horses are regular activities of the EPO.

What you can do:

  • Support FOUR PAWS activities for equine welfare:
  • Make sure that your horse is properly microchipped and registered.
  • Do not breed your horse unless you have ensured that the foal will be kept in a responsible way.
  • Do not keep your horse alone in a box for an unnecessary length of time.
  • Visit the website to learn more about your horse’s needs.