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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.

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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!

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‘Rogue one’…well I’ve been called worse…

Way back in December 2015 I posted a few thoughts about the rise of cloning in equine sports and the regulatory or legal problems that might cause. That was a strand of my PhD research back then, a bit ‘out there’ but nothing wrong with being ahead of the curve I say! In the end it was extracted due to lack of space and became a paper in our inaugural ‘Horses in Culture, Society and Law’ Conference in April 2017. I can now announce the publication of that work in a Contemporary Issues in Law Special Edition in March 2018, edited by myself and Dr Sarah Sargent. It is rubbing shoulders with some first rate research from the USA, Iceland and the UK and I reproduce here the abstracts from our papers. Of course, I have to give another plug to our upcoming 2018 Conference at the University of Buckingham in September!

‘Attack of the Clones’: Problematising equine sports integrity regulation on the ascendancy of the genetically copied athlete.

Dr Jonathan Merritt

Cloned horses are already here and competing; this article considers in turn, both the challenges and the unprecedented opportunities for the development of human athlete regulation that the current participation of cloned equines in elite sport presents.
The arrival of the cloned human athlete has hitherto been considered as a future ‘spectre’ beset with potential sports ethics dilemmas. This paper argues however, that the Kuhnian state of crisis that sports integrity will be thrown into by the advent of the human clone will bring about a paradigm shift of epic proportions. There is however, the opportunity to learn from the regulatory mistakes of the past and shape the guidelines for human clones by regulating their equine counterparts effectively now. The current hegemony is that integrity regulation for one species, man, can be applied to another, horses, with little substantive amendment and be effective. The first sport of any kind to incorporate anti-doping measures into its rules was thoroughbred racing. In the early 1900s racehorses were subject to dope tests because of fears that they were being given cocaine. Human athlete sports followed suit and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Code is the ultimate development of that thinking. Examples cited are the Fédération Équestre Internationale (FEI) regulations and to a different degree the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) rules developed independently from WADA.

None of this has resulted in a satisfactory situation as this paper will demonstrate. The better results are achieved by careful species-specific drafting well in advance of technological change, not struggling to keep up with innovation.

Before and after Mirvahedy v Henley: the history, controversy and practice of strict liability regarding damage by horses.

Carrie De Silva

The 21st century has seen considerable court activity on the interpretation of legislation passed some decades ago, the Animals Act 1971. This ascribes strict liability in certain circumstances for death or personal injury involving equines (and other animals), with most disputes centering on section 2(2 ). Although there had been a number of important cases before, Mirvahedy v Henley in the House of Lords in 2003 gave rise to particular concerns. Since then, the body of case law has quelled much of the uncertainly and the appetite for statutory amendment has died down. The jurisprudence of strict (although not, of course, absolute) liability remains controversial in some quarters however and this article encompasses a wider consideration of strict liability. There is an exploration of the historical development of the law in this area from Biblical references, the common law of scienter and the introduction, and application, of the 1971 Act, along with other potentially applicable law.

Further, the paper considers the comparative position across the USA where, state by state, there are a range of ‘equine liability’, ‘equine activity’ and ‘recreational use’ statutes. These, in some cases, give more weight to the position offered in the section 5(2) defence under the Animals Act 1971, i.e. that the claimant voluntarily accepted the risk .

Establishment and Downfall of a Horse Based Cluster Initiative in Northwest Iceland

Assistant Professor Ingibjorg Sigurdardottir and Professor Ronolfur Smari Steinthorsson

Discussion of research from a wide range of disciplines is of paramount importance in relation to socio-legal research. This paper provides an analysis of research related to the horse industry in Iceland, a country with an ancient and deeply embedded horse culture and a large number of equines and horse owning people.

Interest in the cluster approach has been increasing in Iceland in the last few years, particularly following the financial crisis in 2008. On a regional basis the cluster development has been supported through Regional Growth Agreement (RGA) funds that have been available for suitable local projects. In the RGA for the Northwest of Iceland, there was emphasis on cluster development within existing industries, including the horse industry.

A group of 23 operators of horse related businesses did in 2009 establish a joint effort named “Hyruspor”, which was successful in getting RGA grants to start a formal collaboration, which can be seen as a cluster initiative. But the effort was short lived and did not reach its goals to strengthen the horse industry and the horse related activities in the region. In this research the inquiry aims to reveal what factors can explain the downfall of effort “Hyruspor”? Secondary material was reviewed and open-ended interviews with seven founders of the effort were conducted. Findings indicate that one of the main motivations for the establishment of the initiative was the possibility of getting RGA funds. The leading founders were interested in the project but the commitment of partners was fragile and therefore it is questionable whether the joint effort can be regarded as a cluster initiative. The common conditions and basis for the effort was thin and important resources were lacking including support from leading members which did restrict further development. Vested interests lead to disunity within the group. The project did not deliver an expected quick gain and came short in providing the leadership and facilitation that was needed.

Mustang Denizen: Re-imagining the Wild Free – Roaming Horse and Burro Act of 1971

Dr Karen Dalke

This article considers the effect of public perception, of social construction, on the treatment of wild equines. In particular, on how they are regulated and how that regulation is carried out.

Millions of wild horses, descendants of those reintroduced by Spanish explorers, roamed the landscape long before the United States carved out state and national borders. As the nation grew, and people moved west, wild horses began to be viewed as intruders on the land they had always occupied. There was still a need for horses at this time and many mustangs were captured and trained for riding or farm work. By the early 1900s, general reliance on horses dwindled as they were replaced by machines. Wild horses became competitors for forage as populations, ranching and mechanization grew in the West. Two world wars contributed to excess wild horses rounded up for meat and sent to war-torn Europe. These brutal and inhumane roundups by mustangers persisted for much of the twentieth century.

In the early 1950s, the last massive roundup by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the government department responsible for maintaining rangelands, resulted in the capture of more than 70,000 wild horses. Since they were not owned by anyone, these wild horses had no protections and were mistreated and slaughtered. Campaigning and a public outcry for humane treatment culiminated in 1959 with Public Law 86-234, (the “Wild Horse Annie Act,” – after a prominent campaigner) prohibiting the use of motorised vehicles to hunt wild horses and burros on public lands. It soon became apparent that Federal protection and management was essential. Continued efforts resulted in the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971, citing these animals as “living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West…‘. Moderate voices advocated multiple use of public lands and humane treatment, but battle lines emerged between those who sought to eradicate wild horses and others who wanted complete protections for them with no controls. This battle continues to wage. As of March 1, 2016, 67,027 wild horses and burros roam BLM managed lands, while another 44,580 are in long and short-term holding facilities. Care of the animals in holding facilities consumes almost 60% of the program’s budget and receives far less attention than horses living on public lands. Calls for mass slaughter have been proposed and offer a quick solution to holding facilities at near capacity.

An overarching issue plaguing wild horses and burros is perception. One camp wants to treat them as part of the natural wildlife while the other views them as pests that should be eliminated. The mustang is not wild or domestic, it is a liminal animal. These types of animals have been highly successful in evolutionary adaptation, but also suffer great injustices. This article seeks to explore whether two opposing camps mired in a complex history of distrust, can find common ground utilising the concept of ‚denizenship‘.

Download the full edition, Issue 3, Volume 14, here.

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Call for Papers, 2018 ‘Horses in Culture, Society and Law’ Conference

The Call for Papers for the 2018 session of this exciting multi-disciplinary equine conference is available by clicking on the Conference ‘tab’ above or click here.

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Confirmed – 2018 Conference is to be at the University of Buckingham!

The second annual ‘Horses in Society, Culture and the Law’ Conference will be held in September 2018 at the University of Buckingham, UK.  More details are available on the conference page (top right tab above).  Dr Sarah Sargent and I are excited to be working on a Call for Papers as well as invitations to first rate keynote speakers.  Also look out for the journal special edition drawing from the 2017 submissions, details soon!

U of Buck
The University of Buckingham offers excellent facilities and a superb location as well as easy access by road, rail and air.



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Delighted to be hosting the ‘Horses in Culture, Society and Law’ Conference on this website.

Following on from the success of this year’s ‘Horses, Society and the Law: Past, Present and Future’ Conference on 11th April 2017 at De Montfort University, DMU_Welcome Leicester, UK, we’ve decided to make this an annual event.  The name change reflects the inter-disciplinary nature of this conference with papers on anthropology to law to penology being submitted this year.  We are now working on a special issue in a respected academic journal to fully showcase those submissions.

There is a new tab on the menu which will take you to the conference site.  We are excited about this development and look forward to many years of exchanging research ideas across disciplines.

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