Once a year, representatives from the FEIF member countries meet
Social licence to operate (SLO) and combatting sexual harassment are the two big topics that will provide the focus of the upcoming international FEIF Conference, which will take place 3rd/4th February. Ca 115 delegates from almost all FEIF Member countries, will come together in Stockholm to bring together representatives of breeding, education, leisure, sport and youthwork to discuss developments, trends and open question in each of the FEIF departments.
These meetings are important and serve to keep the Icelandic horse community together, following the same rules across the world. But in addition to the departmental work, delegates will begin to discuss the really big questions, which all equestrians worldwide are now faced with: How do we – human beings – justify using animals purely for pleasure? How do we keep the balance between ensuring horse welfare, allowing the horse to lead a live in tune with its nature, and at the same time bending its will to perform in horse sports of all kinds, be that for the competitor or those engaging in ‘spectator sports’? Is it right to push the hose to its limits, mentally and physically, just for our entertainment? Will a deeper, science-backed understanding of the nature of the horse lead to improved welfare regulations? These are the questions under the international debates of the “Social license to operate”. Leading us through the discussions will be Prof. Michael Weishaupt from the University of Zürich, a leading voice in the current debate, and also the supervisor of the ‘hoof study’ commissioned by FEIF a number of years ago, which helped the Icelandic horse world to do away with excessive forms of hoof manipulation in competition horses.
And then there is the dreaded topic of sexual harassment in the equestrian world. Again? Could a deeper understanding of the issues lead to improved lives for the victims? Will we be more ready to step in and interfere when we see certain behaviours around us? Is a world free of sexual harassment even conceivable?
Well, we will at least open the topic, aiming for greater awareness, and less tolerance of all issues to do with sexual harassment. These are questions too big for individuals to tackle. But together – maybe we can make a difference.
Photo: IPZV art competition 2020