‘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.


About Dr Jonathan Glen Merritt

Senior Lecturer in Sports Law and Criminal Justice, and a member of the Sports Law Unit at Leicester De Montfort University School of Law, UK. PhD in Equine sports law governance, especially disciplinary structures. Also competing as an owner and rider with British Dressage. Obviously all views expressed are author's alone except where a guest author has contributed.
This entry was posted in The horse and social policy, The horse and the economy, The horse in sport: The non-human athlete, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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