On 6th November 2021, I was delighted to be part of the innovative virtual event, ‘Fit For Welfare’, hosted by the Society of Master Saddlers (SMS). Today I’m sharing with you some of my learning from the day.
In a twist that I haven’t seen at other online conferences, the day began with an address from HRH The Princess Royal. To me, this was a reminder of just how important tack is in terms of the welfare of the horse.
Dr Jane Nixon started the conference on a serious note, discussing the prickly subject of Social License to Operate within the equestrian world. This is a concept that I hadn’t consciously thought about before, or at least that I hadn’t given a name to. The website, www.socialicense.com discusses what a Social License is:
“The Social License has been defined as existing when a project has the ongoing approval within the local community and other stakeholders, ongoing approval or broad social acceptance and, most frequently, as ongoing acceptance.
At the level of an individual project the Social License is rooted in the beliefs, perceptions and opinions held by the local population and other stakeholders about the project. It is therefore granted by the community. It is also intangible, unless effort is made to measure these beliefs, opinions and perceptions. Finally, it is dynamic and non-permanent because beliefs, opinions and perceptions are subject to change as new information is acquired. Hence the Social License has to be earned and then maintained.”
Basically what they’re saying is that what people think matters. With the recent drama debate around whether or not equestrianism should continue to be part of the Modern Pentathlon at the Olympics, we can see just how much impact the opinion of the public can have on sport. Jane finished with dire warnings that we must all take responsibility for how the sport of equestrianism or risk it’s demise.
Take home message: We all need to be aware of how the sport of equestrianism is perceived.
© Sue Palmer, The Horse Physio, 2021
Treating your horse with care, connection, curiosity and compassion