EEF partners with the Sporthorse Welfare Foundation

The EEF is excited to announce a new partnership with the Sporthorse Welfare Foundation. The foundation is an international research group committed to enhancing horse health, performance, and welfare, and improving horse-rider relationships through high quality, inclusive research and education.

The EEF will be working on a specific research project to find consensus about what the essential aspects of sport horse management and training are to safeguard the welfare of the sport horses involved. Ultimately working towards creating clear guidelines and advice to bring a global standard for sport horse welfare.

The foundation will bring together a group of over 150 equestrian professionals and scientists from 32 countries. The group contains experts from different disciplines and different kinds of professionals from multiple fields; riders, grooms, trainers, veterinarians, scientists, farriers, owners and more: there are so many people with a wealth of experience and knowledge about this subject. The method used is called a Delphi-design, in which expert’s opinions work to identify a consensus position, and the scale on which this study takes place, is unique in this debate. Consensus provides scientists and practitioners with a solid foundation based on the knowledge and experiences of experts in the field.

As the top-level sport evolves, we are aware the demands on our equine athletes are changing and it’s central to the EEF’s mission to ensure horse welfare remains the top priority. This project will explore all areas of an elite sports horses’ life, from competition, travel, training, nutrition, and home environment to find unanimity on the key factors and identify the best requirements for the horse.

The SWHF is now proudly in partnership with the European Equestrian Federation and the national federations of Belgium, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Switzerland, as well as Hartpury University, the Sport Horse Research Foundation and World Horse Welfare. Additional information can be shared with interested federations who may wish to make a larger contribution and become a partner of this project. Please contact

EEF President Theo Ploegmakers said: “We are delighted to be working on this project with the Sporthorse Welfare Foundation. Ensuring horse welfare is central to our purpose but to date, there is no consensus on what horse welfare means and the standards we expect. The researchers involved from the foundation are world-leading and are able to place science at the centre to ensure the measures we take are proven to improve the environment and experience for our elite equine athletes.

Founding researcher Dr Carolien Munsters said: “This is a groundbreaking project to bring much-needed clarity to the area of horse welfare. Currently, the term is incredibly broad and different nations are working towards different standards. We want to use research and evidence-led practice to agree on a global definition and standards with all key stakeholders, that all nations can then adapt and work towards to optimise welfare for our equine athletes.

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