The organisers of 2016’s National Equine Forum (NEF) say the event will provide inspiring and stimulating debate on a host of topical issues.

Horses-Grazing-in-fieldPrincipal vets, welfare officials and equestrian industry experts will come together at the forum, taking place at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in London on Thursday 3 March, and discuss equine health, welfare, legislation, behaviour, competition and veterinary science.

The aim is to inform, educate and help the industry to speak with one voice on matters affecting the current and future management and wellbeing of horses.

The day will begin with the theme “United We Stand, Divided We Fall”, including a panel discussion between some of the UK’s chief veterinary officers – Nigel Gibbens, Robert Huey and Sheila Voas – and animal health and welfare inspector Steven Gale, chaired by chief executive of World Horse Welfare, Roly Owers.

Jan Rogers, head of equine development at the British Equestrian Federation (BEF), will cover the progress on the forthcoming central equine database and passport scheme. She will discuss what it means for passport issuing organisations and horse owners.

Ben Hart, one of the UK’s leading equine trainers, will speak on the theme of “Behaviour in Working Equids” and examine how the welfare of equines around the world can be improved by changing people’s understanding of their behaviour.

In his talk, Derek Knottenbelt will explain why it is important to always consult the professional. Prof Knottenbelt will look at the conceptual differences between how humans seldom self-medicate to any degree while horse owners are often inclined to consult with the “free options” of pet shops, tack shops and feed merchants. He will also raise the thorny question of homeopathy and herbal medicine.

Pip Kirby, chief executive officer of The Pony Club, will explore the role of the organisation in 2016.

Dan Hughes, performance director for the BEF, will discuss the challenges presented by the 2016 Rio Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) chief veterinary officer Jenny Hall will explain why it’s imperative “the horse comes first” in all aspects of racing.

Richard Newton, head of epidemiology and disease surveillance at the Animal Health Trust (AHT) in Suffolk, will present the inaugural memorial lecture. These lectures are given each year by past winners of the Sir Colin Spedding Award, which was won by Andrew Waller on behalf of the AHT’s infectious disease group in 2014.

In addition, there will be a number of five-minute topical slots throughout the day and the winner of the Sir Colin Spedding Award will be announced and presented.

The NEF is organised by a committee reflecting various sectors of the equestrian industry. Its president is The Princess Royal and it is sponsored by Bedmax, Blue Cross, BEF, British Equestrian Trade Association, British Equine Veterinary Association, British Horse Society, BHA, Bulley Davey, Craig Payne Photography, Darbys Solicitors, Dodson and Horrell, The Donkey Sanctuary, Hadlow College, the Horse Trust, Jeffress Scholarship Trust, NFU Mutual Insurance, SEIB Insurance Brokers, Weatherbys and World Horse Welfare.

Tickets are available to equestrian trade delegates and equestrian professionals at £100 per person, which includes lunch and refreshments. To apply, email

For more information on the NEF, visit

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