THE FIRST YEAR OF EUROPEAN EQUINE WELFARE ASSOCIATION

Founding EEWA and building organizational infrastructure

EEWA's Vice President Jasmin Niemelä (on the left) and Their Voice Portugal's President Sharon Clarke (on the right) giving rescued horse, Joao, a bath at TVP in 2018

Equines are in desperate need of help

We feel that now it is a good time to look back at 2019 and what we at EEWA have been working on. EEWA was founded in February 2019, and the first year was the year of building everything from scratch. It all started when we, the founders of EEWA, volunteered at an equine rescue organization Their Voice Portugal in 2018. We saw too many serious cases of neglect and after returning to Finland felt like we couldn’t walk away from it anymore. Most of the problems were caused by a huge lack of knowledge. Therefore, we decided to establish an association that spreads awareness, provides education and works together with equine rescue organizations.

Elmo asking if his food is ready at TVP
Dahlia, one of the horses that TVP has rescued

Equines need a network of compassion and care

We believe that improving equine welfare can be done by creating a network of people who want to make a difference and help horses and other equines. Hence, year 2019 consisted of building EEWA’s network and meeting dozens of amazing people. We attended Hanko Seahorse Week, Helsinki Horse Fair and The Horses Fair in Tampere, as well as visited rescue organizations in Spain and Portugal. In between these meetings, we built our infrastructure, took care of the administrative work, did a lot of research, and explored the best ways to help horses and equines in Europe. 

Launching the first concrete activities

At EEWA Equine Welfare Seminar in Helsinki, October 2019

The first EEWA Equine Welfare Seminar

In October 2019 we organized our first seminar in which the theme was a science-based and horse-friendly approach to working with horses. During the two-day seminar in Helsinki the participants saw presentations by six amazing equine professionals. In the seminar, we talked about the needs and behavior of horses as well as the role of emotions and training when working with horses. Speakers were equine professionals who truly viewed the horse as an animal with feelings and needs, instead of an object that exists to serve humans. Promoting the intrinsic value of equines is important to EEWA, and it was critical that the speakers at the seminar shared our view. 

Panel discuession with Nina Laiho, Heta Rautiainen and Verna Vilppula
Heta Rautiainen talked about critical thinking and scientific knowledge

The seminar was a success and we received great feedback from the participants. This first seminar required a lot of work, so we were extremely happy everything went so well. We were especially grateful for the warm, accepting and friendly atmosphere – thank you everyone who took part in the seminar! 

EEWA's President Elisa Seppo thanking seminar speakers Katariina Alongi, Aino Koivukunnas and Kati Riesen
EEWA's Vice President Jasmin and President Elisa on the stage giving a presentation about EEWA

During the year, it became even clearer that education is an important focal point to EEWA. Seminars are a great way for us to share science-based knowledge and raise awareness in Northern European countries. Above all, however, seminars are a good way to raise money for our educational projects in countries with striking equine welfare problems. After all, this is what we want to focus on and the reason EEWA was founded.

Creating hope through education - in the search for cooperation projects

EEWA's President Elisa and Vice President Jasmin in Spain meeting Veronica Sanchez (in the middle) from Refugio del Burrito and Jill Newman-Rogers (on the right) from ARCH

Getting familiar with equine rescues
of Portugal and Spain

After the first seminar we shifted our focus to our trip to Spain and Portugal. During this trip we met people who work in various ways to improve equine welfare in Spain and Portugal. During our nine-day visit, we met people from ARCH (Andalucian Rescue Centre for Horses), El Refugio del Burrito (Donkey Sanctuary in Spain), Their Voice Portugal, Country Quest Portugal, Algarve Horse Alarm and Pelos Equideos. In order to build a common ground for possible collaborative projects in the future, the purpose of the trip was to meet and become acquainted with people who are working to improve equine welfare.

Visiting Refugio del Burrito (Donkey Sanctuary in Spain)
EEWA's President Elisa and a donkey that was rescued from Mijas (Spain) where he used to pull a donkey taxi

During the visit we learned a lot and had many great and insightful conversations. We discussed equine welfare problems in Spain and Portugal, relating to e.g. people’s beliefs and habits, socio-economic situation, and legislation. In addition, we found some common interests and agreed on the importance of education to improve horse and equine welfare in these countries. We also met rescued horses and donkeys, and heard their heart-breaking rescue stories. 

TVP's President Sharon Clarke and EEWA's President Elisa saying hi to Sakura who stole Elisa's heart already in 2018
Happy horses enjoying each others company and freedom to move and express themselves at Country Quest Portugal

As devastating as it was to see all the neglected equines and hear their rescue stories, we are grateful for all the meetings we had with the amazing people who are dedicated to helping these horses and equines. We are also as determined as ever to do everything we can to improve horse and equine welfare in Europe. 

Closing the first year and opening EEWA’s second year full of amazing projects

Horses standing in a misty sunset
Rescued horses at Their Voice Portugal (©Janine Behrens)

Overall, 2019 consisted of a lot of learning, succeeding and failing, big emotions, and getting to know the field. By the end of 2019, EEWA has gone a long way as an association: we now have a good network of people wanting to make a change and a clear focus on what we should work on. This enables us to start focusing more on concrete projects to improve equine welfare in the long run. 

Rescued donkey that we met at Refugio del Burrito (Donkey Sanctuary in Spain)
EEWA's President Elisa and horses at Country Quest Portugal

We want to thank our 2019 seminar speakers and equine professionals: Katariina Alongi, Aino Koivukunnas, Kati Riesen, Verna Vilppula, Heta Rautiainen and Nina Laiho, Seminar Team: Aurora Renvall and Ella Svahn, Marketing Team: Mira Färm, Laura Färm and Mimosa Tuomi, and Coach Sanni Kotilainen. Thank you our collaborative business partners and rescue organizations. And last but not least, our Supportive Members and followers: Thank you, without you this wouldn’t have been possible. 

Together,
let’s make sure
that at the end of 2020
Europe is a better place
for horses and equines!

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