Tag Archives: pony club

World Horse Welfare Conference

Subjects and opinion from the World Horse Welfare Annual Conference: Part 2

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Who is Responsible?

In the second part of our round-up of the World Horse Welfare Conference, we discuss the importance of communicating the right message, equine flu and the power of social media to educate.

 

We all know that social media can be a vice and a virtue in the equine world. Fake news, incorrect information from “armchair experts” and cyber bullying is a modern day problem. YouTube sensation Esme Higgs talked about how she is trying to put this powerful tool to good use. The 18 year old amateur rider is working with the FEI and other equine organisations, together with charities, to produce videos on horse care and correct horse practice. The objective is to help other young equestrians learn more about horses, riding and welfare. Esme is working closely with World Horse Welfare to deliver positive messages to a global audience.

 

Equine Influenza was a key subject of the Conference and it was a shock to learn that only 30 % of British horses are vaccinated. Speaking on the subject was Dr Madeleine Campbell, a vet and European Diplomate in Animal Welfare Science, Ethic and Law.

 

Equine flu can be devastating. It affects the respiratory system, leading to fever, coughing and mucous. It can be debilitating and effect the lungs long term. Ultimately, it can kill. There was an outbreak in Africa, which resulted in the loss of over 100,000 horses and donkeys. Australia fared even worse with the Hendra virus which killed not only horses but vets and horse owners who came into contact with infected animals. They also suffered an outbreak of equine flu in 2007, the industry was shut down for six months and the country was not declared free of the disease until 10 months later.

 

In the UK, we experienced the fear factor and potential for huge disruption earlier this year, when several racehorses tested positive to equine influenza. All racing and equestrian sport came to a standstill until it was assured to be under control. It made headline news and cost the racing industry between £150m and £200m. It could have been so much worse and trainers and riders alike were praised for their professionalism and discipline in halting the movement of horses. The question remains at large, who is responsible for ensuring that horses are vaccinated? Is it the vets, the owners, the sports governing bodies?

 

Some responsibility lies with the pharmaceutical companies who produce the vaccine, Dr Campbell states. “Flu changes all the time and can become immune to the vaccines. Many of the drugs still available on the market, are old and it is up to the producers to keep it up to date.”

 

What is confusing and raises opinion, is that all the sport bodies seem to regulate a different frequency. For example, FEI rules state that horses competing must be vaccinated every six months, whilst outside of this in sports such as racing and Pony Club, it is once a year. How can we possibly know what is right or wrong for horse welfare, with such conflicting regulations?

 

However, the overall conclusion is that we should focus on the benefits of health and welfare of the horse rather than the competition regulators. At the end of the day, consider that if you choose not to vaccinate your horse and he is exposed to equine flu, he could die. Not to mention the grave consequences, that could arise if it is not kept under control with vaccines as the strains could mutate and be immune to the vaccine.

 

Horse owners often say that their horse doesn’t go anywhere so there is no need to vaccinate but if he is in a stable yard alongside horses who do compete or leave the yard, these horses could bring back the virus. The higher the vaccination percentage in the overall population, the less opportunities there are to infect horses.

 

HRH The Princess Royal, as long standing President of World Horse Welfare closed the conference, with her thought provoking conclusion on “Who is Responsible?”

Princess Anne - World Horse Welfare
World Horse Welfare Conference 2019

 

“Responsibility is not an academic subject. It comes inherently but it needs to be defined. There is so much knowledge out there but it doesn’t translate to power” she said. We must understand and respect the importance of horses to individuals and societies not just the 100 million working horses around the world but also those in first world countries, Princess Anne advocated.

 

Finally, she reinforced the importance of seeing our horses as partners and understanding their needs. “Animals can adapt, as seen with those working for the Riding for the Disabled Association and we should not underestimate horses ability to make decisions. We need to listen to what they are telling us and be prepared to be their partners. It is our responsibility to ensure it is a good partnership and that we learn not just their physical needs but also their emotional needs.”

 

Written by Horse Scout’s Ellie Kelly who was in attendance at the World Horse Welfare Annual Conference 2019.

WhatsApp Image 2019-02-22 at 3.15.53 PM

POLO POWERHOUSE MALCOLM BORWICK ANNOUNCED AS HORSE SCOUT POLO AMBASSADOR

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WhatsApp Image 2019-02-22 at 3.15.43 PM

 

We are excited to welcome professional polo player and global ambassador Malcolm Borwick to the Horse Scout network. With over 50 caps for the England team to his name and player contracts for teams in USA, Argentina, South Africa, Spain, France as well as the UK, his life and career has been a richly varied one since turning professional at the age of 18. Equestrian Journalist Ellie from HorsescoutPR.com team caught up with the 42 year old at the International Polo Club in Palm Beach.

 

Malcolm comes from a long line of polo enthusiasts. His great grandfather was a contender for the prestigious Westchester Cup in 1902 and his grandmother played in the first ever women’s test match in 1924

 

Much of Malcolm’s time is taken up as a polo ambassador for a number of brands and organisations, but he still plays at the top end of the sport and plays off a 6 goal handicap. His life has been a unique and thrilling adventure, involving globetrotting to polo hot spots and playing in some of the most significant polo events.

 

As well as supporting the brands he is involved with and helping to try and grow the sport with his enthusiasm. His wife Alexandra and three young children- Ines, Jaime and Lucas are lucky enough to join the ride. They travel the world as a polo family and the children are educated at local schools in each country, speaking both English and Spanish fluently.

 

 

Where did it all start? 

 

I was born in Hampshire but grew up in Northamptonshire. As a child I did everything- hunting, jumping team chasing and Pony Club until I was 10. Then I started playing Pony Club polo at 10 and that took over as my main focus.

 

Why polo?

 

It’s the sum of all sports. I played cricket, tennis, rugby, golf growing up. You add in a horse and the dynamic nature of the sport of polo, team mates, the complexity of the sport, the adrenalin, the opportunities for travel. It encapsulates what you would want out of every single sport. The interesting thing about polo is you can never have the perfect day. I’m good friends with a guy who has the record for the number of goals scored in the most difficult competition in the world. Even he says he wished he’s scored that extra shot and he scored 17 goals that day. I think that keeps you striving for success.

 

As a global polo ambassador, which brands and organisations are you involved with? 

 

Piaget, Maserati, Royal Salute Scotch Whiskey, La Martina are the main ones. I have come to Palm Beach to be a global ambassador for the International Polo Club. It is quite simply the best polo club in the world and has all the makings and positioning to be the power house not just in North America but in World Polo.

 

 

Reflecting on your life and career as a polo player, what have been the highlights? 

 

As a child, my aspiration as to put on an England shirt. I played a lot of cricket before I played polo. Back then, if you had given me the choice between walking on to the pitch at Lords and playing Test cricket or playing polo, I might have said Test cricket. But putting on my England polo shirt for the first time was a very special day. Then winning the Coronation Cup three times during the peak of my career, they are great memories.

 

Rumour has it you are friends with the Royals and went to Prince Harry’s wedding?

 

I have been very lucky to be involved with the Royal Family. I’m not even sure how I stumbled into it. I ended up playing an awful lot of polo with Prince William and Harry over the last 15 years so we have a great relationship. I have been lucky enough to play with them at all their charitable events and we have raised millions for their charities.

 

What is going on at the moment for you and what is on the horizon?

 

I am heavily involved with Gladiator Polo right now. It’s a new concept in the sport. It takes place in a much smaller arena so the audience are up really close. It is different from normal polo- three a side rather than four. There will be no amateur or patron playing so all the players will be professionals. This will make it very fast and furious and it’s a shorter format and shorter chukkas. The sponsorship will be much more mainstream than luxury- brands like Coca Cola and Mars.

 

We want the audience to interact and engage with the sport and become followers. We would love more people to take up the sport and this is casting the net wide and trying to find as many more interested people to either just enjoy watching or get involved.