Britain’s leading equine welfare organisations come together at the Grand National

Britain’s leading equine welfare organisations and charities are once again gathering together under one roof at the Aintree Grand National meeting to raise awareness of welfare issues across the equine population.

The RSPCA, World Horse Welfare, the British Horse Society and Retraining of Racehorses will be exhibiting and talking to racegoers under the marquee banner of The Horse Comes First at Aintree. More than 150,000 racegoers are expected to attend the three-day meeting and will have the opportunity to find out more about the excellent work each of the charities does in the field of horse welfare. On each day there will also be an equine vet on the stand to answer questions about all aspects of equine health.

The Horse Comes First stand presents the opportunity to raise awareness both of the high welfare standards within British Racing as well as the wider welfare issues affecting the non-racing equine population in the UK.

A number of horse welfare groups have a shared concern about the nationwide 'Horse Crisis' with more than 4,000 horses and ponies at risk of abandonment and neglect. These horses are not as fortunate as the elite equine athletes that receive first class care and attention within horseracing and other horse sports. The welfare charities are working hard to highlight this situation and make sure horses are given the care, attention and the homes they need and deserve.

Organisations represented in The Horse Comes First stand at Aintree regularly work together on issues across the equine welfare landscape. Coming together at the Grand National meeting, they are looking forward to talking to the racing public about their respective areas of work and expertise, as well as providing practical advice to racegoers about caring for horses.

The Horse Comes First marquee will be located at Aintree adjacent to the Red Rum Garden, overlooking the Parade Ring and will be open over all three days of the Grand National meeting.

Andrew Tulloch, Director of Racing at Aintree Racecourse, said:

“We are delighted that the leading equine welfare charities will be represented on The Horse Comes First stand at the Grand National meeting. Horse welfare is of paramount importance to all of us within Racing 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 and ponies in Britain and we want to do everything we can to promote these excellent charities working on behalf all horses in the UK.

David Muir, equine consultant for the RSPCA, 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 with 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."

Roly Owers, Chief Executive of World Horse Welfare, said:

“With so much global interest in the Grand National this Saturday, it provides a great opportunity to compare the stark difference between the care that elite sport and race horses receive compared to the thousands of other horses across the country. The world’s ultimate steeplechase is not without risks, but irresponsible ownership and indiscriminate breeding pose far greater risks to horse health and welfare in this country.   We applaud Aintree for giving us this chance to show so many racegoers the tragic reality for too many horses in the UK today.”

Lee Hackett, Director of Policy at the British Horse Society, said:

“The British Horse Society is delighted to be involved with the Horse Comes First initiative. As the UK’s largest equestrian charity and education provider we have been keeping a close eye on the measures that Aintree have taken to improve the safety of horses and riders taking part in races over the Grand National course. On Saturday the attention of the world will be on the elite equine athletes lining up for the National but we mustn’t forget the thousands of other British horses that are suffering and in desperate need of the help of the BHS and other equine welfare organisations. These horses don’t make the headlines like the Grand National winner will. Britain is facing a horse welfare crisis on an unprecedented scale so we are very grateful to Aintree for the opportunity to reach out to racegoers at this week’s meeting.” 

Di Arbuthnot, Chief Executive of Retraining of Racehorses (RoR), said:

“As British racing's official equine charity we regularly work alongside World Horse Welfare and the RSPCA, with our shared common goal of protecting and promoting horse welfare. The stand we share at Aintree is therefore a reflection of our day to day working relationship and it provides a great platform and opportunity to talk to racegoers on a range of horse welfare related topics. The Grand National meeting also features a parade of former racehorses showcasing the work of RoR in helping more and more horses find fulfilling second careers after racing.”

Robin Mounsey, spokesperson for The Horse Comes First initiative, said:

“We’re pleased to be working with all of these organisations to raise awareness of both the welfare provided to racehorses throughout and after their racing career, and also the welfare issues surrounding horses outside of racing.”