The former President of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons and past Chairman of World Horse Welfare, Barry Johnson, has been appointed as the independent chair of a new Horse Welfare Board on behalf of the British Racing industry. Barry worked closely with horseracing in his previous role at World Horse Welfare. He was appointed by an industry panel including the British Horseracing Authority, the Racecourse Association and The Horsemen’s Group.

Barry Johnson said:

"I’m very pleased to have been asked by racing to take on this role and by the sport’s commitment to continuous improvement in the welfare of racehorses. I look forward to working with all those who want to play their part in enhancing the lives of racehorses and in making the sport as safe as possible. I want to start by listening widely to those who work directly with horses in our industry as their experience and skills will be vital in shaping a new horse welfare strategy."     

The Welfare Board’s first task will be to develop a new welfare strategy covering the whole racing industry. The sport’s governing and regulatory body, the British Horseracing Authority, currently regulates horses’ welfare whilst racing and in training. The strategy will look across the whole lifetime of racehorses, before, during and after they leave the sport. The Welfare Board will also ensure that the collective contribution to equine welfare is communicated effectively within the sport and to public and political audiences.  

The first meeting of the Horse Welfare Board will take place in the next few weeks. The Horsemen’s Group and the Racecourse Association will both be represented on the Board. The BHA’s Director of Equine Health and Welfare, Dr David Sykes, whose team co-ordinated the industry’s response to the equine influenza outbreak, will also sit on the Board.

The Board is aiming to set out its thinking for the future of horse welfare in racing later this year and to make initial recommendations by the end of 2019.

Nick Rust, Chief Executive of the BHA said:

"The public has seen recently during the influenza outbreak how racing acts with great care and professionalism to manage the risk to racehorses. I expect the strategy to set out our ambition for bringing the same level of focus at all stages of the racehorse’s life and explaining this collectively and confidently to outside audiences." 

The Racecourse Services Director at the Racecourse Association, Caroline Davies said:

"We welcome and are fully committed to supporting the important work of the Horse Welfare Board under the leadership of Barry Johnson.  His wealth of experience will be of huge benefit as we work together to develop, implement and communicate a comprehensive strategy to safeguard the health and wellbeing of our horses."

The Chief Executive of the Racehorse Owners’ Association, Charlie Liverton, representing The Horsemen’s Group said:

"British racing should rightly be very proud of both its welfare record and the way in which the thoroughbred racehorse is bred, reared, raced and looked after following its retirement. The Horse Welfare Board, which racing’s stakeholders have been planning over the past six months, will help formulate an industry-wide welfare strategy and communicate this to racing’s family, government and wider society, in order that we can build on our record of minimising risk wherever possible, both on and off the racecourse."