Events: World Horse Welfare 2012 Conference Scheduled for November 15 in London, England

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It was 1963 when this photo was taken. And it was time for Jimmy to go. She knew that but it didn't make it any easier...

Mrs Thomas was preceded on London's streets by this rag-and-bone woman from the 1930s, shown here with her horse, cart and children outside their rag-and-bone shop. Most of the rag and bone men (and women) around the world use trucks now. (photo credit Deborah Betteridge)

Mrs Thomas was preceded on London's streets by this rag-and-bone woman from the 1930s, shown here with her horse, cart and children outside their rag-and-bone shop. Most of the rag and bone men (and women) around the world use trucks now. (photo credit Deborah Betteridge)

"She" was Mrs. Thomas, a colorful resident of East London, and the only female rag-and-bone dealer in London. "Rag and bone" dealers roamed the streets with horse-drawn carts, collecting recyclable objects that they could re-sell. Rags could be sold in bulk to various industries or papermakers, and residents' leftover bones from a roast were collected to be burnt into bonemeal, used for fertilizer. But the dealers didn't stop there--they coveted scrap metal and any useable, resalable objects.

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After legendary severe weather following Christmas 1962, London shut down. Snow blanketed the city. Ice sealed the streets. It was no weather for a horse to navigate.

Jimmy stayed in his stall. By February, the blizzards brought 20-foot drifts and the sea froze for a mile from shore.

Mrs. Thomas was feeding Jimmy out of her old-age pension. It was her only source of income. The city was paralyzed for over two months.

With some reluctance, her beloved Jimmy was finally turned over to the British-based charity, World Horse Welfare, then known as the International League for the Protection of Horses (ILPH).

(photo from the World Horse Welfare archives)

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It's 50 years later, and the ILPH, now called World Horse Welfare, is still helping horses. Mrs. Thomas would surely approve.

The world view of horse welfare has been shaped and articulated by World Horse Welfare for the past 85 years. Their first horse rehabilitation farm opened in 1939 and their activities are as personal as accepting retired horses like Jimmy to launching ambitious education and horse care projects in South Africa and Central America to working with the Federation Equestre International (FEI) as consultants on equine welfare for horses in sport.

Now it's time for the World Horse Welfare 2012 Conference.

Operating under the theme of "The Importance of the Horse in Society Today" and sponsored by Betfair, the all-day event will be held at London's Royal Geographical Society on November 15.

"For thousands of years horses have been mankind's other best friend. We have relied on them to help build civilizations, fuel economies, inspire sport, win wars, move populations and facilitate trade and agriculture," the charity writes.

"Today in the developed economies horses are increasingly regarded soley as leisure and sport animals - and an industry has been created around them," the text continues.

"But elsewhere, horses are still playing just as vital a role around the world -- and in the UK -- as they did 100 years ago. They are the trucks and tractors of many developing economies and rural communities. They serve in the military and in the police forces. And they play an important role in the travelling communities within Britain," they concluded.

World Horse Welfare said that they hope to welcome the charity's President, Princess Anne, at the event. Other speakers include Metropolitan Police Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe, Betfair Chairman Gerald Corbett, and traveller-turned-Chief RSPCA Inspector John Grant.

Of course, no discussion of the role of horses would be complete without examining the current role of horses in sport.

The conference's discussion panel will be chaired by Simon Brooks-Ward, managing director of equestrian events producers H Power Group.

The Jurga Report will provide as many details as possible from the conference.

For more information email Jessica Stark at World Horse Welfare.