A study into developing sport horse welfare standards has moved into its next phase ©Getty Images

A study led by the European Equestrian Federation (EEF) and its partner Sporthorse Welfare Foundation (SWF) into horse welfare standards has progressed to its next phase after the successful competition of the first stage.

The research, which aims to find out the required experience level needed to produce good welfare, gathered the views of an excess of 100 equine professionals and federations from more than 24 countries.

Each participant was questioned on welfare, their knowledge, experience and opinions about sport horse management, training and health in a Delphi-structured study.

Now, the study is scheduled to move on to a phase where experts can vote and rate the final topics to reach an overall picture about sport horse welfare.

The third round will see how these aspects will be further evaluated.

In the fourth and final phase, in-depth interviews will give experts the chance to further explain and clarify domains.

It is expected the Delphi method will be finalised towards the end of the year.

Rob Ehrens, bottom left, supports the study designed to improve sport horse welfare ©Getty Images
Rob Ehrens, bottom left, supports the study designed to improve sport horse welfare ©Getty Images

The SWF are anticipated to analyse the final results and share the initial findings with its supporting stakeholders before being presented in online webinars to all equestrian stakeholders and those with an interest.

Dutchman Rob Ehrens, who competed at the 1988 Olympics in equestrian and later became a showjumping coach, believes in the importance of the study.

"We enjoy our beautiful sport every single day," he said.

"But we have to make sure we do not use our horses as a tool, just to be successful and gain money.

"We are obliged to take good care of our horses; we owe them that.

"I believe this study helps us to better define the discussion about the well-being of horses and offer tools to people who work with horses.

"It will be for the benefit of the horses and when they are managed, ridden and taken care of even better, I believe the sport will reach a higher level, too."