AWF Session 2 Discussion

Following the three presentations on equine welfare, there was a 30-minute discussion session. Some of the questions and issues that were explored during this time were: –

  • When vets are using banned products should the punishment be more severe? The general consensus that punishments are severe and the RCVS would take a view on this subject.
  • The point raised that young vets in small animal practice (in the practice of the delegate) have a very good grasp of euthanasia and no shortage of skills enabling owners to come to the end of life decisions.
  • Have we ‘normalised’ extreme practices in the use of horses for competition? Should the status quo be changed?
  • Over high fences resulting in catastrophic injuries such as multiple fractures should be unacceptable
  • Some orthopaedic injuries occur, though, just with cantering and not in extreme performance. Possibly need to accept that injuries are part of the equestrian sport as it is for human athletes.
  • Injury in horses more common in fields than on the race track
  • Are thoroughbred horses getting better veterinary care than leisure horses?
  • Should there be an MOT similar to the one devised by Blue Cross for pets?(Petwise MOT) – potential useful tool for equine vets.
  • Competition between equine vets. Manipulation by owners. Loyalty to an individual practice-uniform 30 to 40 years ago seems to have disappeared. What to do about this? Better communication between vets? Vets should not allow themselves to be pushed by trainers.
  • The reality is that by standing by principles you may lose clients. So be it.
  • Back to the facial ethograms devised by Sue Dyson. Disappointment that not well received at a congress. It is a work in progress still, with a third paper due shortly. Potentially hugely helpful panel view. The profession must be prepared to adapt and change.
  • The issue of solitary confinement was brought up. How long for? Quite a bit of discussion on this including the preference for controlled exercise after some procedures and injuries earlier than previously the case. Recurrence of injury more likely if exercise too soon after prolonged rest. If they have to be confined environmental enrichment and preferably a companion.
  • An interesting statistic that in Denmark it is is a legal requirement for horses to be at pasture for 2 hours daily.

What is best for euthanasia-chemical or shooting? The panel thinks both are humane-didn’t touch on the perception of the owner, which is a major factor against shooting in dogs.

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