Open Letter at the occasion of the World Championships for Icelandic Horses 2023

August 14 2023 | General

Dr. Prof. emer. Ewald Isenbügel, Founding and Honorary President of FEIF.

Since 1968 the Icelandic horse community has celebrated European and World Championships alongside the Landsmót in Iceland. The Netherlands are hosting the World Championships this year, and we owe our sincere gratitude to the organisers of the event.

When the first Icelandic horses came to the European mainland in the 1950s, who could have foreseen the worldwide development of the Icelandic horse – the pioneering in promoting ground-breaking forms of keeping horses in groups, leisure riding and new and exciting gaits?

Thanks to the founding countries of the FEIF, the worldwide success of the Icelandic horse has resulted in a renaissance of horsemanship, competition, and breeding in the homeland of the Icelandic horse. Furthermore, due to the export of horses and the steadily increasing flow of visitors who are Icelandic horse lovers to the island of the horse’s origin, the horse has become an important economic factor in Iceland. For some time now, this success story has been overshadowed by the dark cloud of a cruel exploitation of pregnant mares on Icelandic blood mare farms. Animal welfare is an important premise in the FEIF countries, and it is clearly defined in the regulations for sport, horse management and breeding. It also forms the basis for the social license to operate.

The disregard for animal protection laws in the blood mare business has led to increasing resistance in the Icelandic population. Amidst all appropriate celebration and sportsmanship, we would do well to remember the dark shadow of 5000 suffering mares and their foals, which hovers over the world champions as they proudly ride their victory laps amid the fervent applause of the audience. Our common appeal must be for a clear ban, not merely the improvement of the conditions for blood collection and we should demand this strongly and vehemently. Let´s keep in mind, that Iceland does not bear this responsibility alone; Germany is the largest importer of PMSG.

For FEIF, the International Federation of Icelandic Horse Associations, the welfare of the horse, the respect and responsibility for a living creature must be paramount and must never be subject to competitive or commercial influences. As the international Federation of Icelandic Horse Associations worldwide, FEIF condemns the practices and the mistreatment of mares on blood farms. We welcome a stop of the import and domestic production of PMSG and support any action taken by the Icelandic authorities to stop the procedure in Iceland completely.