Equestrian Receives Independent Social License to Operate Commission

The FEI has formed an independent commission to develop a practical framework that will enable the IF to address current and future concerns related to the use of horses in sport.

“In our industry, Social License to Operate (SLO) is the term for social acceptance of the practice of equestrian sports and all related activities,” explained FEI President Ingmar De Vos.

“More than ever before, equestrianism and the activities of the FEI are under public scrutiny and through the Commission we want to adopt this audit to drive change and bring the spotlight to our key stakeholder – the horse.

“There are comprehensive systems and mechanisms in place to protect equine welfare, but more can be done and more needs to be done. And in an ever-changing society, where perceptions are changing and norms are evolving at an ever-increasing rate, the FEI must address these concerns and criticisms from society and within the equestrian community in a clear and transparent manner.

“It is our duty as the governing body of the equestrian sport and that is why we have established this important and independent commission so that we can advance an approach that strengthens the place of equestrian sport in society.”

The 10-strong commission is headed by Professor Dr. Natalie Waran (NZL), an internationally recognized equine welfare expert who is Professor of One Welfare and Executive Dean at the Eastern Institute of Technology (Te Pūkenga) in New Zealand.

Prof. Waran is one of the five members of the commission who are considered outside the FEI, with their selection being based on consultation with equine welfare and veterinary groups, while the remaining five members represent the FEI and are selected for their experience in a particular area became the responsibility of the FEI and to represent the views of the athletes and officials.

“I am very honored to have been asked to lead this work,” said Prof. Waran. “By bringing together outside experts to facilitate the development of a framework that addresses and advances the welfare needs of sport horses, the FEI has taken an important step forward in social licensing.

“By being willing to look ahead and address current and future challenges related to the social licensing of equestrian sport and see change as a force for good, the FEI and its member organizations will provide the leadership needed for a sustainable equestrian sport.”

The first meetings of the commission, which has yet to be formally named, will take place in June 2022 and will include plans for working with different stakeholders and the focus and composition of the working groups. The Commission is expected to work together over an initial period of 18 months, with an interim report to be presented at the FEI General Assembly in Cape Town (RSA) in November 2022, followed by a second report at the FEI Sport Forum in April 2023 and a Final Report/Framework to be submitted to the FEI General Assembly 2023 in Mexico for approval.

FEI Social License to Operate Commission

Chair: Professor Dr. Natalie WaranExternal Expert, Professor of One Welfare and Executive Dean at the Eastern Institute of Technology (Te Pūkenga) in New Zealand.


  • Professor Kathalijne Visser-RiedstraExternal Expert, Professor (FH) Human-Animal Interactions at Aeres University of Applied Sciences – Almere, Flevoland, The Netherlands
  • dr Camie HelskiExternal Expert, Senior Lecturer College of Agriculture, Food and Environment – Lexington USA
  • Madeleine CampbellExternal Expert, Lecturer in Human-Animal Interactions and Ethics – Royal Veterinary College University of London
  • Mrs. Jessica StarkExternal Expert, World Horse Welfare Communication & Public Affairs Director
  • Mr Theo PloegmakersPresident of the European Equestrian Federation, FEI Board Member
  • Mr. Cayetano Martínez de IrujoSpanish show jumper – International Jumping Riders Club (IJRC)
  • Mr. Ken E. LaloCAS Judge, Past Chairman of the FEI Tribunal, President of the Israel Equestrian Federation
  • Mrs. Sabrina IbanezFEI Secretary General, APSO President
  • Mr Cesar HirschFEI Judge and Steward Level 3 and President of the Pan American Equestrian Confederation (PAEC)

Ex officio – Administrative and logistic support

  • dr francisco lima, FEI Director Governance & Institutional Affairs
  • Mrs. Barbara RodelHead of the Office of the FEI President

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