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5 April, 2016 - 23:20 By Judith Gaskell

Charity gallops to overseas success with horse and human welfare message

Growth plans to reach 20 countries across the globe by the end of 2018 might sound like the strategy of an ambitious corporate heavyweight but is, in fact, that of Snetterton-based charity World Horse Welfare, which has been improving the health and welfare of horses since 1927.

“Although we’re not a typical export organisation we are exporting skills and services and also British values,” says the charity’s Director of International Liam Maguire.

Like any company with ambitious growth plans it is using the help of UKTI to reach the key players in each of its markets.

World Horse Welfare first used UKTI to help organise an event at the British Embassy in Romania. Following this initial step, last year it started a concerted effort to take its message to more countries.

“We contacted our UKTI international trade adviser Leszek Wysocki to see what further support they could offer us and were surprised by the amount of help available to charities,” says head of programme development Karen O’Malley. This led to plans to set up a new project in China, with the charity travelling there last year to establish contacts in the country and determine the next way forward.

“Part of the contact with UKTI has been to ensure that they are taking the right approach in the different countries,” explains Karen. “Taking UKTI advice has confirmed that our approach is one that will be accepted in the countries we are targeting.”

As well as China, World Horse Welfare is now expanding into Nepal and Panama. It will also be co-hosting a veterinary conference in Cuba later this year. This is on top of 10 other countries it is already working with across Central America, Asia and Africa.

The aim in all these countries is to raise the profile of the charity within the general development sector and, by the end of 2018, to be helping 30,000 equines in 20 countries from an overall annual budget of £2 million.

Explains Karen: “Our whole approach is to improve the harmony of the equine-human partnership, primarily through education and sharing of best practice. 

“By working in partnership with equine owners, governments, universities, sport regulators and other organisations, we can successfully improve equine care knowledge, skills and policies affecting equines of all kinds: from those used in elite racing, sport and leisure to working equines in poorer communities to equines destined for the food chain.”

In each of these countries World Horse Welfare works with local partners, giving them experts on the ground who understand the local culture and language. “We can provide the technical advice and equine skills and they are the ones who understand this within their own context,” adds Karen.

In many cases, horse welfare issues are not the result of cruelty but results from owners and those involved in the treatment and care of the horses not having the necessary knowledge and skills, says Karen. 

“In many of the countries we work in, animal welfare and equine specific subject matter is not included in veterinary curricula. As a result, local vets do not have the confidence to handle working horses and this lack of ability is hindering them.”

World Horse Welfare also aims to reach horse owners and help them look after their working horses.

Liam Maguire said: “There are people in urban areas in some of the countries we are going into who are looking to improve their income by owning a horse but have no knowledge of how to look after it or any access to services such as a farrier.

“It’s not negligence that’s the issue but lack of information.” By carefully handling how it approaches each country the messages from World Horse Welfare are being well-received, says Liam.
 
“Promoting best practice towards horse welfare is not about saying ‘we’re better than you’ but helping them realise that they don’t have the wherewithal or don’t notice that they need to get better care – not just for humane but also for economic reasons.”

In addition to taking its message overseas World Horse Welfare is keen to increase its funding channels, which until now have mostly come from UK donations; further down the line, it is seeking institutional funding from overseas with the help of UKTI.

UKTI’s Leszek Wysocki said: “World Horse Welfare came to us because they wanted to see if they could develop their international work and income. We have worked with them to try and do this, brainstorming different ways to look at international potential.

“This included exploring European funding opportunities, aid-funded business opportunities and providing training workshops for staff to take better advantage of international market research.”

Growth plans to reach 20 countries across the globe by the end of 2018 might sound like the strategy of an ambitious corporate heavyweight but is, in fact, that of Snetterton-based charity World Horse Welfare, which has been improving the health and welfare of horses since 1927.

“Although we’re not a typical export organisation we are exporting skills and services and also British values,” says the charity’s Director of International Liam Maguire.

Like any company with ambitious growth plans it is using the help of UKTI to reach the key players in each of its markets.

World Horse Welfare first used UKTI to help organise an event at the British Embassy in Romania. Following this initial step, last year it started a concerted effort to take its message to more countries.

“We contacted our UKTI international trade adviser Leszek Wysocki to see what further support they could offer us and were surprised by the amount of help available to charities,” says head of programme development Karen O’Malley.

This led to plans to set up a new project in China, with the charity travelling there last year to establish contacts in the country and determine the next way forward.

“Part of the contact with UKTI has been to ensure that they are taking the right approach in the different countries,” explains Karen. “Taking UKTI advice has confirmed that our approach is one that will be accepted in the countries we are targeting.”

As well as China, World Horse Welfare is now expanding into Nepal and Panama. It will also be co-hosting a veterinary conference in Cuba later this year. This is on top of 10 other countries it is already working with across Central America, Asia and Africa.

The aim in all these countries is to raise the profile of the charity within the general development sector and, by the end of 2018, to be helping 30,000 equines in 20 countries from an overall annual budget of £2 million.

Explains Karen: “Our whole approach is to improve the harmony of the equine-human partnership, primarily through education and sharing of best practice. By working in partnership with equine owners, governments, universities, sport regulators and other organisations, we can successfully improve equine care knowledge, skills and policies affecting equines of all kinds: from those used in elite racing, sport and leisure to working equines in poorer communities to equines destined for the food chain.”

In each of these countries World Horse Welfare works with local partners, giving them experts on the ground who understand the local culture and language. “We can provide the technical advice and equine skills and they are the ones who understand this within their own context,” adds Karen.
In many cases, horse welfare issues are not the result of cruelty but results from owners and those involved in the treatment and care of the horses not having the necessary knowledge and skills, says Karen.

“In many of the countries we work in, animal welfare and equine specific subject matter is not included in veterinary curricula. As a result, local vets do not have the confidence to handle working horses and this lack of ability is hindering them.”

World Horse Welfare also aims to reach horse owners and help them look after their working horses.

Liam Maguire said: “There are people in urban areas in some of the countries we are going into who are looking to improve their income by owning a horse but have no knowledge of how to look after it or any access to services such as a farrier.

“It’s not negligence that’s the issue but lack of information.” By carefully handling how it approaches each country the messages from World Horse Welfare are being well-received, says Liam.

“Promoting best practice towards horse welfare is not about saying ‘we’re better than you’ but helping them realise that they don’t have the wherewithal or don’t notice that they need to get better care – not just for humane but also for economic reasons.”

In addition to taking its message overseas World Horse Welfare is keen to increase its funding channels, which until now have mostly come from UK donations; further down the line, it is seeking institutional funding from overseas with the help of UKTI.

UKTI’s Leszek Wysocki said: “World Horse Welfare came to us because they wanted to see if they could develop their international work and income. We have worked with them to try and do this, brainstorming different ways to look at international potential.

“This included exploring European funding opportunities, aid-funded business opportunities and providing training workshops for staff to take better advantage of international market research.”

• PHOTOGRAPH: Karen O’Malley working with prospective horse owners in Nicaragua

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