Where is the representation for animals in sport?

Terri Byers

Terri Byers: The equestrian industry is "...afraid of criticism and not willing to have this debate..." (photo Jens Astrup/Play the Game)

THE HILLMAN lecture theatre played host to a panel of experts who debated issues surrounding the involvement of animals in sport earlier today, including breeding, welfare and the slaughter of post-career and injured horses, as well as the future for horse racing, dressage and other animal sporting events, writes Marc Johnson.

Terri Byers, principal lecturer in sport management at Coventry University and involved in the organization of Play the Game 2009 told CU Today: “This is kind of a test I think, and hope, will feature in the next Play the Game main speaker sessions.”

Byers added: “Everything they’re talking about at this conference – doping, match fixing – it all happens in equestrian sports as well, and the problem is it’s mostly reported in equestrian circles.”

The nature of the Play the Game conference and the equestrian industry as a whole meant that officials for the Industry didn’t reply to invites to attend the talk to discuss the issues surrounding their sport.

During her talk entitled ‘Use and Abuse of animals in sport’, Byers said: “They’re afraid of criticism and not willing to have this debate,” before commenting on a general lack of communication and dialogue between those in the industry.

Other speakers included Dene Stansall who discussed the issues surrounding the British race industry, Andrew Byers on the surplus of thoroughbreds, and Bill Brooke on sports, recreation and horses for the masses. 

In the UK, equestrian events have a combined economic value of around £36.5 million and a thoroughbred racing industry second only to football. The speakers all addressed the need for welfare reform and a downturn in breeding schemes, but with a general lack of media coverage and a modest bill in Play the Game 2009, who’s going to hear them?


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