The industry wants to make a difference, says the Australian Horse Industry Association.
Photo: Andrew Meares It is a cause that’s been championed by some of the world’s most prominent equestrians and equine trainers, but the industry is not alone in its push for change.
Equine experts and horse breeders have been lobbying for changes for decades.
“This is a very difficult and complex industry and you can’t go into the horse world without seeing the challenges of the industry,” said the association’s chief executive officer, Steve Watson.
“The horse industry is facing a lot of challenges, including over-use of horses and horses having a limited lifespan and a limited supply of horses,” he said.
The Association for Equine Welfare said the current horse breeding system is failing to deliver for horse owners and the industry needs to address its challenges.
“We’re very much in a position where it’s hard to see where we are in a way that’s sustainable, in terms of sustainability,” association director of equine welfare, Ian Roberts, said.
“When you have a very large number of horses bred in this way, it’s a very high-stress environment for horses.”
If you have one horse in the world that’s very healthy and well bred, you can have a healthy herd of horses that can produce a lot more horses.
But there’s a lot that needs to be done.
The AMA’s Watson said the animal welfare movement was “not a silver bullet” but a “step in the right direction”. “
It’s about how we can do more, what we can be doing and what we’re doing and where we can go with our plans for the future,” he added.
The AMA’s Watson said the animal welfare movement was “not a silver bullet” but a “step in the right direction”.
“I think it’s quite a different view to the horse breed and equestry world at large,” he told AAP.
“People are really interested in the future, and what are the future outcomes, and I think it has to do with a new breed, new genetics and new ways of breeding horses.”
The horse industry’s latest annual report shows that the number of Australian horses born into the industry declined from a peak of 4,500 in the 1990s to 1,632 in 2018.
The average age of Australian breeding horses is 24 years old.
The number of equestries has also decreased in recent years, with the number in operation down from 864 in 2016 to 527 in 2018, according to the AMA.
Mr Roberts said the horse population needed to be “reduced and diversified” and said the industry needed to focus on improving the welfare of horses.
“That’s a challenge we’re going to have to do together,” he predicted.
The Victorian government said it would look at introducing a “new breed” of equa, a hybrid of a horse and a dog, and a new equine club, which would allow the public to meet and see a variety of breeds, including the American Staffordshire Terrier and the American Shorthaired Bull Terrier.
The group, which the government had set up in September last year, is looking to establish a breeding programme for the Australian Shorthair, Australian Bull Terriers and American Stafford Terriers.