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Putting a value on horses

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‘WHAT is the value of horses?’ This was the theme of the annual World Horse Welfare conference held at the Royal Geographical Society, London, on November 13, 2014, which discussed the emotional, financial and functional value of horses.

Barry Johnson, chairman of World Horse Welfare, noted that differences in horses' perceived value impacted on their health and welfare. He compared racehorse owners who, he said, ‘spare no expense for their animals’, with unscrupulous dealers and breeders ‘who may leave a horse in agony rather than seek help’ and with families ‘willing to take out loans they can't afford to pay for the treatment of a much-loved pony’. Increasingly, he said, ponies were abandoned as if they had no value, yet in many parts of the world people relied on horses for their existence.

The charity's chief executive, Roly Owers, called for perspective when considering the value of horses. Everyone had their own perspective on the value of horses, he said; the same horse could have multiple values and focusing on one value did not necessarily negate others.

Soenke Lauterbach, general secretary of the German Equestrian Federation, discussed the financial value of sports horses, …

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