French horse-related organizations have officially finished their work on a comprehensive guide to horse welfare in France. The manual on best practices in the horse industry has now been submitted to the French Ministry of Agriculture, where it will be evaluated by the scientific agency analyzing all food safety and animal husbandry policies, and then eventually published as an official guide to best practices for all people from the worlds of agriculture, leisure, and sport who regularly work with horses.
The proposed guide is a complement to a previously signed Charter for Horse Welfare that was endorsed by all of the major horse associations in France during the International Agricultural Show in Paris in 2016. Since then, the organizations have put two years of work into developing a comprehensive guide to ensuring high quality care for horses across France based on the fundamental values laid out in the charter. The goals of the guide are to meet these broad objectives laid out in 2016, based around eight fundamental principles that should be respected:
- Establish a confident relationship between horses and the humans that work with them
- Guarantee sufficient access to food and water that is adapted to the physiological and behavioral needs of horses, as well as taking into account the intensity of the work that is asked of them
- Ensure that horses are given a place to live that is set up in a way that prevents risks of injury and disease and that allows them to adapt to variations in climate and weather
- Structure the environment of the horses in such a way that it allows them to express their natural behavior and offers them rest from work
- Respect the gregarious nature of horses by encouraging positive social behavior with other horses in order to limit behavioral problems
- Collectively define best practices in horse raising, housing and use with a goal of limiting health risks
- Prevent and treat pain
- Ensure, throughout the life of the animals, necessary care, and that the end of their lives comes in decent conditions when no other efficient or economically possible treatment exists.