Equine welfare organisations come together to host ‘The Horse Comes First’ exhibition at 2014 Grand National meeting

Equine welfare groups host The Horse Comes First exhibition at Aintree. Pic: Jockey Club Racecourses

Equine welfare groups host ‘The Horse Comes First’ exhibition at Aintree. Pic: Jockey Club Racecourses.

By Simon Jackson

The RSPCA and other leading equine welfare organisations will come together at the Grand National meeting to host an exhibition focussing on the well-being of horses in Britain.

The RSPCA, World Horse Welfare, the British Horse Society and Retraining of Racehorses will collectively exhibit as The Horse Comes First at the racecourse for the three day Grand National meeting that starts tomorrow.

The initiative’s aim is to raise awareness of any issues that may relate to the welfare of horses in the wider equine population, including the increase in the number of horses and ponies at risk of abandonment or neglect.

The Horse Comes First marquee offers racegoers the chance to learn about the organisations’ work and to ask questions from the hosts or a vet who will be on-hand each day to answer any queries relating to equine health.

The RSPCA’s director for Wales, Steve Carter, said: “The RSPCA is pleased to be part of this initiative which is a great chance to highlight the equine crisis currently faced by the major equine charities in England and Wales.

“The RSPCA took in more than 1,700 horses last year and we work closely with World Horse Welfare and the British Horse Society, as well as other charities, to rescue and rehabilitate thousands of horses every year that have fallen victim to irresponsible ownership and neglect.

“We couldn’t do what we do without the help of the public and we hope that the stand will help us to find new homes for some of the 800 horses in our care, as well as highlighting the crisis.”

The groups are eager to raise awareness of any issues relating to the well-being of all types of horse in Britain and Roly Owers, chief executive of World Horse Welfare, believes the exhibition at Aintree is a great chance to highlight the issue.

“The Grand National is the ultimate steeplechase challenge for 40 horses every year, but this pales in comparison to the stark reality faced by thousands of horses across the UK every day who are not receiving the basic care they need,” Owers said.

“It seems so appropriate to highlight the current UK equine crisis, a man-made crisis, under the Horse Comes First banner at this pivotal event.  We are deeply grateful to Aintree for the opportunity of showing tens of thousands of racegoers how they can help in this time of true equine need.”

The initiative continues Aintree’s intent to promote the safety and welfare of horses, which was rewarded in last year’s Grand National where no horses or jockeys were injured after significant moderations were made to the fences and starting area.  

“We are delighted that the leading equine welfare charities will be represented on The Horse Comes First stand at the Grand National meeting,” Aintree’s director of racing, Andrew Tulloch, said.

“Horse welfare is of paramount importance to Jockey Club Racecourses and Aintree and we want to promote not only what horseracing does in this sphere, but also the excellent work undertaken by the RSPCA, World Horse Welfare, British Horse Society and Retraining of Racehorses among the wider equine population.

“Racehorses rarely want for anything in terms of the care they receive, but that sadly is not the case for all horses in Britain and we want to do everything we can to promote these excellent charities working on behalf all horses in the UK.”

The Horse Comes First marquee will be located at Aintree adjacent to the Red Rum Garden, overlooking the Parade Ring. It will be open throughout the three day Grand National meeting.

Read Horse Talk with Simon Jackson each day at London24 for the latest horse racing news.

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