Conference Plans


There are two conferences on the horizon currently. Of course there is the ‘Horses in Culture, Society and the Law’ annual conference which I’ve already posted about and with which this blog and author has a long standing connection. I’m excited to be presenting at the University of Buckingham in October on the problem of carrying out an accurate census of horse numbers and the impact this can have on management and welfare. All set in the context of Princess Anne’s controversial comments in 2013 about the desirability of horse meat as food. An extract from my abstract for –

Horse feathers’ or ‘horse sense’? – Would having horses in the food chain enhance the effectiveness of registration, inspection, care and welfare of equines?

follows next:

brown horse beside gray metal bar

Photo by Pixabay on

‘Foucault believed that an accurate census was an integral part of any human power dynamic, the first step necessary for regulation control of the population. In terms of equines, this paper considers power in a less sinister form than Foucault imagined, the power to safeguard. Without a clear picture of how many equines there are and how they are kept, it is impossible to have a true grasp of their welfare. In Europe for instance, research has indicated that national surveys suffer from significant under reporting and estimates tend to have large standard deviations. In the UK the passport system and now an equine database are in their relative infancy. In respect of the latter, there is a clear need to thoroughly ‘clean’ the data, something which is being left to individual horse owners under vague threats about the General Data Protection Regulations. In Australia there is no requirement to register horses and in New Zealand a passport system based on the European model has not long been launched. In the US, laws vary by state and the precarious position of the federally managed wild mustangs and burros is well documented. This paper is an analysis of the systems for carrying out a census of the equine population in the UK with reference to that in a number of other jurisdictions. It also considers the repercussions of a lack of accurate information on the welfare of equines.

This conference is of interest to practitioners and academics alike from a range of disciplines. The 2018 Symposium included research being carried on the tax status of liveries, the legal concept of animal sentience and horses and horse tourism studies, all from a range of jurisdictions including the UK, Ireland and Iceland. Horse and Hound were in attendance and wrote up two of the papers in their print editions in October 2018.

…and away.

The second conference is an internationally renowned one. Just this week I had an invitation to submit something for the next ‘Equine Cultures in Transition’ Conference now in its third year and last held in Leeds. this excellent multi-disciplinary equine forum began its run in Stockholm, Sweden in 2016 and I posted about my contribution there at the time. I’m honoured to be invited back and also relieved there is ample time to come up with a paper with suitable rigour yet broad appeal!

Once an idea starts to gel, you’ll read it here first folks!

Posted in The horse and social policy, The horse and the economy | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

MBA Thoroughbred Horse Racing Industry (THIMBA)

JGM Liv IMG_2146The University of Liverpool Management School offer THIMBA and it is now an established course for managers and aspiring managers who work with racing or race horses. Under the leadership of Neil Coster it is a pioneering course combining academic study and input from leading industry insiders who can give a practice perspective. By kind permission of my HoD at my home university I have the privilege of consulting on and delivering parts of this course at the University’s London base on Finsbury Square.

This unique Thoroughbred Horseracing Industries MBA is the only masters-level qualification in the world to be delivered through an exclusive partnership with British Horseracing Authority, the Horserace Betting Levy Board and The Racing Foundation.

The programme combines the Management School’s expertise in sports industry management, with the specialist equine knowledge of the University’s School of Veterinary Science. As an MBA programme it has the real business focus that management positions in modern horseracing demand. This is based on links with key sectors of the industry — from racecourses, horseracing governance and administration, trainers, owners and breeders, to the gambling industry and the media.

The programme supports both those working in the horse racing and associated industries, and prospective career-changers, to develop their management and leadership skills. It is delivered through a combination of face-to-face and online teaching, which allows participants to remain in full-time employment…

(University of Liverpool Management School Website)

I last contributed in November 2018 and worked with a very motivated cohort on legal aspects of the course culminating in a mock disciplinary tribunal as an assessment. A very compressed 4 days with visiting speakers from leading law firm DLA Piper and the British Horse Racing Authority amongst others.

action athlete competition course

Photo by Daniel on

Topics included contracts, intellectual property, employment law and integrity management based on the current Rules of Racing. The students worked extremely hard and the feedback was very positive.

The benefits I gained were many, I got to hone my delivery at MBA level and, let’s be honest, talk about horses and horse sport for 4 days straight, to a receptive audience to boot! I look forward to possibly being engaged again when the next cohort comes through.

Posted in The horse and the economy, The horse in sport: The non-human athlete | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Writing, musing and publication plans

My book is out…perhaps a film?…play?…Broadway musical?

This past 6 months or so has been productive in research terms. I managed to turn my thesis into a book with the kind help of Lexington Books , part of Rowman and Littlefield Publishers the US. Regulating Sport for the Non-Human Athlete; Horses for Courses is available from the publisher or from, for more information click here.

This book evaluates the status quo of integrity management within sports that involve horses worldwide. Sports governing bodies and international sports federations are very powerful organisations within their sphere and the governance of these sports has created a hegemony which does not necessarily serve the interests of those engaged in sport, rather those who ‘rule’ sport. This book investigates the question of whether cheating is discouraged and fair play rewarded, both to an adequate degree.


Well maybe not a film etc. ….after all how would I decide who would play me?

Articles of faith….

Faith that they’ll eventually get published that is. I have two offerings simmering away on the hob. Firstly I have a piece which examines the fate of the legal definition of animal sentience post Brexit. The UK definition will now not be as the EU one was. There was a social media backlash when this became apparent and the current administration reacted quickly with a draft Bill. This paper examines how animal sentience has been protected in UK law, how that chimes with current scientific understanding and what other jurisdictions have put in place. There is some politics but not much and a definite focus on how this all affects horses and horse owners. There is a potted version as a webinar, which I’ve written about in a previous post, if time is pressing.

‘Show me your horse and I will tell you who you are’: Brexit, a chance to acknowledge animal sentience in law.

‘Legal protection for any domesticated reached a pinnacle in 2006 with the Animal Welfare Act. This paper argues that the recognition of animals as sentient beings by both the scientific and legal worlds means that their level of legal protection should be reflected within our current law. This paper takes issue with the construction of legislation such as the Animal Welfare Act and argues that there have been missed opportunities to protect horses with rights that are more in tune with the modern social construction of horses. The paper concludes with a view, based on previous progress, as to whether the UK legislature can indeed be trusted to properly recognise animal sentience post ‘Brexit’.’

This extract from the draft abstract might whet your appetite….or at least help you judge whether the article is worth looking out for to help with your own research.

Horse racing and CAS you say??


The other paper I’m working on examines the relationship between UK horse racing and the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Switzerland.

‘A jump jockey has to throw his heart over the fence – and then go over and catch it’: The Court of Arbitration for Sport and UK Horse Racing – Could an ‘arranged marriage’ work?

Basically there is no relationship per se but plenty of evidence that there could be and that it would be mutually beneficial. This is especially considering the growth of certain types of sporting corruption. Watch this space on that one.

More on what I’ve been up to whilst I’ve been away from this blog, and what conferences I plan to grace with my presence, follows….

Posted in The horse and social policy, The horse in sport: The non-human athlete | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Webinar Series

It’s been a while since I posted here but I have not been idle! In October 2018 I was delighted to be asked to present some of my research ideas in a webinar series run by Horse SA . My initial offering was on the controversial topic of equine cloning and was accessible Worldwide live but now is to be found here on Horse SA’s YouTube channel . There are also a number of other resources that are fascinating to listen to for the academically minded equine enthusiast.

That webinar was well received enough for me to be asked back to deliver another broadcast in May 2019. This time I spoke about animal sentience and changes to UK law here consequent on Brexit with a particular focus on horse welfare. Click here to view that.

Image | Posted on by | 1 Comment

2019 Conference Details Now Available!

For the 2019 Conference please go to the conference web page (last tab on the right on this site) or click here.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Horses In Culture, Society and the Law 19 September 2018, Papers and Presenters- Free Attendance- Save the Date!




September 19, 2018


Radcliffe Centre, University of Buckingham






1.00-1.30 Registration

1.30-1.45 Welcome

1.45-2.45—Panel 1


3.00-4.00—Panel 2


4.15-5.15—Panel 3


Panel One:


Presenter: Carrie de Silva, Harper Adams University

“There’s no business like …”:  how decisions of the tax authorities, courts and tribunals on the treatment of profits and losses, investments and capital gains help or hinder equestrian operations in the UK, Éireand the USA.


Equestrian businesses, including competition yards, stud farms, livery, riding schools and racing, often struggle to make a profit.  This paper considers the law, and the application of that law by the tax authorities and in courts and tribunals, regarding the business (as opposed to hobby) status of equestrian undertakings.  The law is generally not equine specific but a body of case law has grown up in this area regarding both the taxation of profits/losses and the tax treatment of investments and capital gains.  There are also specific tax provisions for certain aspects of equine business (most famously the pre-2008 regime in Éire regarding stud farms and racing), through legislation or decisions of the higher courts, which will be reviewed on a policy level.


Presenter: Laura Donnellan, University of Limerick, Ireland


British Equestrian Federation and Misgovernance

The British Equestrian Federation (BEF) was recently the subject of an independent review following the resignation of its Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Clare Salmon. Ms Salmon raised a number of concerns about the culture, governance and the interaction of some of the Member Bodies. In response, the BEF commissioned an independent investigation to be undertaken by John Mehrzad, a barrister at Littleton Chambers, where he is Head of the Sports Law Group, and two independent investigators, Sharon Scotson, a retired Chief Inspector and Ben Ewart, who has held a number of positions within the police force, including Senior Investigating Officer. In response to the allegations, a number of organisations within the BEF raised issues regarding the governance of the sport under the stewardship of Salmon.

During her tenure, the constituent organisations had their funding reduced along with changes to the governance of the sport, which undoubtedly did not auger well for relations between the CEO and the organisations within the BEF. The organisations within the BEF welcomed the independent review and the BEF signalled its willingness to revise its governance structures in order to be fully compliant with the UK Sport and Sport England Governance code. The review was published in March 2018. The Panel found that the treatment of Ms Salmon could be objectively viewed as bullying, elitist and arising from self-interest. However, the Panel did not find that corruption had underpinned any of the grievances put forward by Ms Salmon.

This paper will discuss the events leading up to the resignation of Clare Salmon. It will document the issues raised by the Member Bodies of the BEF. The Panel Review will be examined and the implications of the findings will be discussed.



Panel Two

Presenter: Jonathan Merritt, De Montfort University and Jess Horton

‘Brexit’, horses and animal sentience


The ‘Great Repeal Bill’ was designed to bring all existing European Union (EU) law into UK law at the point of the country’s departure from the EU on 29th March 2019.  At this time a so called ‘Hard Brexit’, with no agreement and a reversion to World Trade Organisation (WTO) trade tariffs is still possible.  The Government White Paper on the future relationship with the EU of July 2018 seems however, to outline a softer Brexit or even a ‘BRINO’ (Brexit in Name Only) much to the disgust of arch-Brexiteers.

One of the unprecedented number of amendments to the Bill in Parliament produced a media and social media storm on its own. This was the consideration of the concept of ‘animal sentience’ as it exists in EU law.  Commentators were concerned that the vote against alignment with this was a signal that the UK Parliament was not prepared to recognise the concept at all after March 2019. Ministerial Guidance was issued within days which attempted to refute his position. Michael Gove, Environment Secretary and prominent Euro-sceptic appeared on national radio to emphasise the Government’s commitment to animal welfare and to urge the people to trust the domestic democratic process to surpass the standards that the EU has mandated in this sector.

This paper sets out to consider whether this trust is warranted, specifically in the context of domesticated horses in the UK. It explores the current position and compares it to other jurisdictions, most notably the US, Canada and New Zealand. This is to analyse how willing the UK legislature has been to acknowledge animal sentience to date, as an indicator of future performance outside the constraints of EU law.

Presenter: Laura Donnellan, University of Limerick, Ireland

The Fédération Equestre Internationale speaks for the horse who has no voice and the Court of Arbitration for Sport listened

US Dressage athletes Adrienne Lyle, an Olympic rider, and Kaitlin Blythe were provisionally suspended on 5 April 2017 after their horses tested positive for the banned substance Ractopamine. The horses had been administered a number of dietary supplements, including Soothing Pink, which was marketed as providing relief for horses with gastric upsets. On the list of ingredients, there was no mention of Ractopamine, a beta adrenoceptor agonist. The two competitors contended that the adverse analytical finding was due to contaminated food or supplements and thus fell within the definition of specified substance under the FEI’s Equine Anti-Doping and Controlled Medication Regulations (EADCMRs).

Lyle and Blythe had their provisional suspensions lifted on 28 April 2017; however, the FEI Tribunal upheld the two-month suspension of their horses on the grounds of animal welfare and in order to ensure a level playing field. Both athletes sought an interim decision from the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) to allow their horses to compete at the US Dressage Festival of Champions from 18-21 May 2017. The CAS granted an interim decision setting aside the temporary suspension on 8 May as the two-month suspension would have been in place until 4 June 2017, thus the decision was a matter of urgency.

On 19 March 2018, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) delivered an arbitral award, which upheld the FEI policy of provisionally suspending horses for two-months on grounds of animal welfare and ensuring a level playing field. The CAS decision has clarified the FEI policy of imposing a two-month provisional suspension on horses. It is a well-thought out decision that has as its core the welfare and health of horses. While the interim decision to provisionally lift the suspensions seemed to undermine the objectives of the FEI, the CAS Panel took a very serious view of the impact of banned and other substances on the wellbeing of the horse.

Panel Three:

Presenter: Sarah Sargent, University of Buckingham

America’s Wild Horses: Cultural Icon or Invader Species?

This paper considers the legal position given to the wild horses of the United States, through federal law. The primary act is the Wild and Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971, that sets out safeguarding of horse and burro populations as a cultural representation of the frontier past of the United States.  The 1978 Public Rangelands Improvement Act gave the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) oversight of wild herds through designated Horse Management Areas (HMA).

Then, as now, the presence of the herds on public range lands that are also used for commercial cattle grazing and other uses, is controversial. Proponents of the herds argue their right to be there as a cultural icon of the American West.  Opponents argue that they are an invader species that contribute to range degradation and compete with cattle for available grazing.

This paper focuses on the Pine Nut Horse Management Area. This is located in Nevada although managed from the state of California. A wild horse advocacy group, Pine Nut Horse Advocates, operates on behalf of maintaining the wild herds found in that HMA. Currently the BLM is planning to trap herds and reduce the number of horses. Captured horses face an uncertain fate—some are adopted but most linger in BLM holding pens.

The Pine Nut herds descend from strayed ranch stock, not Spanish lines. The mystique of the wild horse is such that Spanish descent is often used as an argument for the iconic status of the herds. This paper considers the legal position and reactions to the thriving Pine Nut herds, arguing that legal protection is only attractive to the horses when seen as in danger of disappearance. When that changes, the mood about the horses also changes, placing them in the category of an invader species, and thus, at risk of capture and removal by the BLM.  Current legislation its legal position for the wild herds  is inadequate as there is too much left as indeterminate when the herds are protected from the perspective of being cultural icons rather than through nature conservation or wildlife management.

Presenter: Ingibjörg Sigurðardóttir, Hólar University College Iceland and Guðrún Helgadóttir, Professor, Department of Business & IT, University College of Southeast Norway & Department of Rural Tourism, Hólar University College Iceland.

Land-use conflicts in equestrian tourism – The case of Iceland

The Icelandic horse has been part of the Icelandic society since settlement in the second half of the 9th century. The horse was used for riding and carrying. Travelling long distances in a rough landscape was a significant part of the role of the horse. Trails, used by riding and walking travellers, were shaped during the centuries. In the last decades, when the horse had become a leisure horse instead of being a working horse, new riding trails have been formed, mainly in the lowland of the country and in many cases next to main roads for driving traffic. Travelling by horses for few days is a common practice of Icelandic riders during the summertime. Travelling with a group of own horses and along with few human friends for 2-10 days is favoured by Icelandic riders. Both old and new riding trails are being used by domestic horse enthusiasts as well as equestrian tourism businesses in Iceland.

Equestrian tourism has been a subject of research for several years in Iceland. Despite the importance of trails for riders and hikers, research related to the use of such trails has been scarce. This research asks if Icelanders travelling by horses in Iceland do experience disturbance and/or conflicts regarding the use of trails and other geographical areas in Iceland. Data are gatherer by a questionnaire among domestic horse enthusiasts and by semi-structured interviews with experienced riders travelling by own horses around the country. The research is being conducted in summer 2018. A preliminary study indicates that riders do experience conflicts with driving traffic and in some cases with landowners where they are travelling.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Horses in Culture, Society and the Law Conference 19th September 2018 – Call for Papers, Extended Deadline!

We have had some interesting work in to consider for our panel at the Second Annual Conference at the University of Buckingham this year. To make the themes as varied as possible however, we have decided to extend the deadline for abstracts to 15th July.

Even if you have never given a paper before at a conference this is a great opportunity to submit something and possibly have it published in the Denning Law Journal. Please send your abstracts of around 300 words to Sarah Sargent by email – .

We look forward to seeing you there!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment