Scottish equine welfare charities and Horsescotland recently met with Mairi Gougeon, the Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Islands, to discuss further improvements for horse welfare in Scotland.

The visit took place at a family run riding school and livery yard at Carnoustie, in Angus. After a tour of the facilities and meeting with riders and horses, the Cabinet Secretary heard from representatives from equine welfare charities the British Horse Society, World Horse Welfare, Scottish SPCA, and the umbrella body for equestrian sport, Horsescotland.

The equine sector introduced Ms Gougeon to the horse world, taking the opportunity to highlight its value to the Scottish economy and how welfare can be improved with an integrated equine ID system.

Helene Mauchlen, national manager for Scotland at the British Horse Society, said: “We were delighted that Ms Gougeon took the time to meet with representatives from the equine sector. It was a fantastic opportunity for us to demonstrate the vibrancy of the equine sector in Scotland, with as many as 22,400 households owning a horse.

“We are proud of the advances that Scotland has made in ensuring equines are protected and are pleased that the Cabinet Secretary listened to our proposals on how we can maintain our position as a leader on equine welfare.”

John Burns, director of welfare and breeding at Horsescotland, added: “We believe that a digitised and future proof equine ID system, which builds on the good work of ScotEquine and should be integrated with databases across all the UK countries, is critical to allowing for horses to move overseas more easily while also underpinning good equine health and welfare.”

Ms Gougeon said: “I enjoyed meeting representatives from equine welfare charities to learn more about the Scottish equine sector and would like to thank Rowanlea for their hospitality. I look forward to working closely in the future to further enhance horse health and welfare in Scotland.”

The official visit also examined the regulation of equine establishments and how the Scottish horse world could benefit from adopting some of the forthcoming EU Animal Health legislation by creating a register of equine holdings.