Let's set the scene: In London, preparations are well underway in the Greenwich section of the city to welcome the world's best equestrian competitors to the equestrian events of the 2012 Olympics. At the same time, British newspapers and the Internet are filled with articles and comments on the controversy surrounding the use of the whip in racing. Add to that yesterday's tragic news: the world's number one jumping horse collapsed and died in the show ring in Italy.
Yes, it's time for World's Horse Welfare's annual conference to debate the welfare of horses in sport.
The conference will be held on next Thursday, 17 November 2011. This year's theme is Olympics 2012: What legacy for horse welfare?.
Expert speakers on the day include the charity's President, ?HRH The Princess Royal ("Princess Anne", to American readers), who also sits on the board of the London Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games, Minister for Sport and the Olympics Hugh Robertson MP, renowned racing journalist and broadcaster Alastair Down, and prominent equine reproduction specialist Dr Jonathan Pycock.
Topics to be discussed will include:
? Overbreeding in the equine industry
? Use of the whip in racing
? Duty of care to horses in sport
? The Olympic Legacy
? The media's role in sport horse welfare
World Horse Welfare's Chief Executive Roly Owers and Chairman Christopher Hall will also be speaking at the event, providing an overview of the charity's work to help horses in the UK and overseas. Roly Owers said, "With the Olympic Games fast-approaching, we felt the annual conference was an excellent opportunity to discuss a number of issues relating to the welfare of horses being used in sport. It is also timely as horseracing has hit the headlines on a number of occasions this year, most recently with the debate over the use of the whip.
"We are extremely pleased to have several high profile and expert speakers talking on a number of subjects which I hope will be of great interest to our guests on the day."
There will be also be a question-and-answer forum that will be packed with well-known faces from the world of equine sport, such as: ?HRH The Princess Royal, Andrew Parker-Bowles OBE as chair, three-time Olympic medallist Pippa Funnell MBE, and distinguished racehorse trainer Sir Mark Prescott. For one hour ,they will discuss topical issues around welfare in equestrian sport including questions submitted by the audience.
World Horse Welfare will also showcase its work through a "Charity in Action" session where guests will be able to talk in-depth to staff at a variety of trade stands about what charity programs in the UK and internationally, as well as World Horse Welfare campaigning and research.
The conference is sponsored by Betfair, the world's largest betting exchange. World Horse Welfare's Director of Fundraising John Blake said: "We are delighted to be working with Betfair as new sponsors of our conference, which is further recognition of our unique and central role in protecting horse welfare within racing and promoting the responsible use of horses across all equestrian sport - ambitions shared by both organizations."
This blog post is based on a press release from World Horse Welfare and was edited for this blog.