EEWA’s Year 2022: Campaign against violence towards horses in Finland

In 2022 EEWA’s team worked on a campaign that focused on violence against horses in Finland. The purpose of the campaign was to gather information, spread awareness and start a conversation.

What is it?

We carried out a survey in the autumn of 2021 to find out how common the use of violence toward horses is in the Finnish equestrian scene. The survey gathered a total of over 1300 responses from both horse industry professionals (26% of respondents) and enthusiasts (74% of respondents) such as horse owners and riding school students etc.

Results

The results clearly indicated that the use of forceful and violent methods is common. 

85% of the respondents reported witnessing violence against horses in Finland during the past five years.

72% reported having been told to use force against a horse by someone else.

59% of the respondents said that they had personally used forceful methods against a horse in the past five years.

88% wished that the violence horses have to endure at the hands of humans were talked about more openly.

How?

To implement the questionnaire and the campaign, a project team was formed. The project team consisted of members of EEWA’s board,  horse professionals and communications professionals. The creation of the questionnaire and the following campaign were supported by a group of advisors which consisted of a researcher, veterinarian and an ethologist as well as several animal trainers. 

We defined “forceful methods” as actions taken by humans to end unwanted behaviour or to force a horse to perform. Forceful methods include actions which cause fear, pain, or significant discomfort and distress to the horse. One of the goals of the survey was to find out how people define violence against horses. For this reason we decided not to give it a precise definition in the questionnaire.

The anonymous questionnaire was shared and advertised to horse enthusiasts and professionals on different social media platforms. The communications campaign was done in collaboration with SEY Animal Welfare Finland.

What followed?

The results of the survey were published on social media in the spring of 2022 to kickstart the campaign. Our aim was to gather information, spread awareness and start a conversation. The campaign was successful in achieving these goals. 

Several articles were published in national news outlets, lively discussions took place on social media and the campaign successfully raised overall awareness around the issue of violence in the horse industry.

What's next?

Our next goal is to get the conversation started around all of Europe. We are currently looking for associations and networks who would be interested in carrying out the same kind of a questionnaire in different countries in Europe.

EEWA will provide the survey layout and some materials for the communications campaign for the chosen partners. In case you are interested, please contact us at info(a)eewaequine.com.