Published 15th April
minute read

The Italia government has set law to become the first to officially recognise the horse as an athlete, in a move welcomed as an “interesting development”.

The decision was made by the Italian government, at a conference organised by the Italian equestrian federation (FISE).

The legislation means that a horse is defined as an “athlete horse” when specific requirements are met; it is registered with FISE and declared not for human consumption.

“Italy is a pioneering country in the legal recognition of the horse as a true athlete,” a FISE spokesman said.

“Italy along with FISE is therefore a world leader for equine welfare particularly regarding ‘athlete horses’ involved in equestrian sports.

Delegates of the FEI, the Italian ministry of health and the International Jumping Riders Club (IJRC) were all involved.

The Director of IJRC director contributed to the debate, said: “This law provides the opportunity to finally recognise the horse as subject, and no longer object, in our sport. The well-being and welfare of horses has long been an area of mutual collaboration between the IJRC and the FEI.

World Horse Welfare CEO has recognised this as an interesting development -

“Clearly any step that better protects our equine partners is to be welcomed, especially as we have to recognise that the partnership between the human and equine athlete can never be an equal one, Horses rely completely on us for their care and wellbeing and whether they are athletes or not, they are still horses and need to be treated as such. The real test for this unique piece of legislation is what’s in it for the horses and whether this translates into demonstrable improvements for them.”

FISE added that the move will be the basis for future developments, such as in horse transport and veterinary controls, at national and EU level.

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