Equine Law and Policy Research Centre

Panel One

Presenter: Carrie de Silva, Harper Adams University
“There’s no business like …”:  how decisions of the tax authorities, courts and tribunals on the treatment of profits and losses, investments and capital gains help or hinder equestrian operations in the UK, Éire and the USA.

Equestrian businesses, including competition yards, stud farms, livery, riding schools and racing, often struggle to make a profit.  This paper considers the law and the application of that law by the tax authorities and in courts and tribunals, regarding the business (as opposed to hobby) status of equestrian undertakings.  The law is generally not equine specific but a body of case law has grown up in this area regarding both the taxation of profits/losses and the tax treatment of investments and capital gains.  There are also specific tax provisions for certain aspects of the equine business (most famously the pre-2008 regime in Éire regarding stud farms and racing), through legislation or decisions of the higher courts, which will be reviewed on a policy level.

Presenter: Laura Donnellan, University of Limerick, Ireland
British Equestrian Federation and Misgovernance

The British Equestrian Federation (BEF) was recently the subject of an independent review following the resignation of its Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Clare Salmon. Ms Salmon raised a number of concerns about the culture, governance and the interaction of some of the Member Bodies. In response, the BEF commissioned an independent investigation to be undertaken by John Mehrzad, a barrister at Littleton Chambers, where he is Head of the Sports Law Group, and two independent investigators, Sharon Scotson, a retired Chief Inspector and Ben Ewart, who has held a number of positions within the police force, including Senior Investigating Officer. In response to the allegations, a number of organisations within the BEF raised issues regarding the governance of the sport under the stewardship of Salmon.

During her tenure, the constituent organisations had their funding reduced along with changes to the governance of the sport, which undoubtedly did not augur well for relations between the CEO and the organisations within the BEF. The organisations within the BEF welcomed the independent review and the BEF signalled its willingness to revise its governance structures in order to be fully compliant with the UK Sport and Sports England Governance code. The review was published in March 2018. The Panel found that the treatment of Ms Salmon could be objectively viewed as bullying, elitist and arising from self-interest. However, the Panel did not find that corruption had underpinned any of the grievances put forward by Ms Salmon.

This paper will discuss the events leading up to the resignation of Clare Salmon. It will document the issues raised by the Member Bodies of the BEF. The Panel Review will be examined and the implications of the findings will be discussed.

 

Panel Two

Presenter: Jonathan Merritt, De Montfort University and Jess Horton
‘Brexit’, horses and animal sentience

The ‘Great Repeal Bill’ was designed to bring all existing European Union (EU) law into UK law at the point of the country’s departure from the EU on 29th March 2019.  At this time a so-called ‘Hard Brexit’, with no agreement and a reversion to World Trade Organisation (WTO) trade tariffs is still possible.  The Government White Paper on the future relationship with the EU of July 2018 seems, however, to outline a softer Brexit or even a ‘BRINO’ (Brexit in Name Only) much to the disgust of arch-Brexiteers.

One of the unprecedented numbers of amendments to the Bill in Parliament produced a media and social media storm on its own. This was the consideration of the concept of ‘animal sentience’ as it exists in EU law.  Commentators were concerned that the vote against alignment with this was a signal that the UK Parliament was not prepared to recognise the concept at all after March 2019. Ministerial Guidance was issued within days which attempted to refute his position. Michael Gove, Environment Secretary and prominent Euro-sceptic appeared on national radio to emphasise the Government’s commitment to animal welfare and to urge the people to trust the domestic democratic process to surpass the standards that the EU has mandated in this sector.

This paper sets out to consider whether this trust is warranted, specifically in the context of domesticated horses in the UK. It explores the current position and compares it to other jurisdictions, most notably the US, Canada and New Zealand. This is to analyse how willing the UK legislature has been to acknowledge animal sentience to date, as an indicator of future performance outside the constraints of EU law.

Presenter: Laura Donnellan, University of Limerick, Ireland
The Fédération Equestre Internationale speaks for the horse who has no voice and the Court of Arbitration for Sport listened

US Dressage athletes Adrienne Lyle, an Olympic rider, and Kaitlin Blythe were provisionally suspended on 5 April 2017 after their horses tested positive for the banned substance Ractopamine. The horses had been administered a number of dietary supplements, including Soothing Pink, which was marketed as providing relief for horses with gastric upsets. On the list of ingredients, there was no mention of Ractopamine, a beta-adrenoceptor agonist. The two competitors contended that the adverse analytical finding was due to contaminated food or supplements and thus fell within the definition of the specified substance under the FEI’s Equine Anti-Doping and Controlled Medication Regulations (EADCMRs).

Lyle and Blythe had their provisional suspensions lifted on 28 April 2017; however, the FEI Tribunal upheld the two-month suspension of their horses on the grounds of animal welfare and in order to ensure a level playing field. Both athletes sought an interim decision from the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) to allow their horses to compete at the US Dressage Festival of Champions from 18-21 May 2017. The CAS granted an interim decision setting aside the temporary suspension on 8 May as the two-month suspension would have been in place until 4 June 2017, thus the decision was a matter of urgency.

On 19 March 2018, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) delivered an arbitral award, which upheld the FEI policy of provisionally suspending horses for two-months on grounds of animal welfare and ensuring a level playing field. The CAS decision has clarified the FEI policy of imposing a two-month provisional suspension on horses. It is a well-thought-out decision that has as its core the welfare and health of horses. While the interim decision to provisionally lift the suspensions seemed to undermine the objectives of the FEI, the CAS Panel took a very serious view of the impact of banned and other substances on the wellbeing of the horse.

 

Panel Three

Presenter: Sarah Sargent, University of Buckingham
America’s Wild Horses: Cultural Icon or Invader Species?

This paper considers the legal position given to the wild horses of the United States, through federal law. The primary act is the Wild and Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971, that sets out the safeguarding of horse and burro populations as a cultural representation of the frontier past of the United States.  The 1978 Public Rangelands Improvement Act gave the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) oversight of wild herds through designated Horse Management Areas (HMA).

Then, as now, the presence of the herds on public rangelands that are also used for commercial cattle grazing and other uses is controversial. Proponents of the herds argue their right to be there as a cultural icon of the American West.  Opponents argue that they are an invader species that contribute to range degradation and compete with cattle for available grazing.

This paper focuses on the Pine Nut Horse Management Area. This is located in Nevada although managed by the state of California. A wild horse advocacy group, Pine Nut Horse Advocates, operates on behalf of maintaining the wild herds found in that HMA. Currently, the BLM is planning to trap herds and reduce the number of horses. Captured horses face an uncertain fate—some are adopted but most linger in BLM holding pens.

The Pine Nut herds descend from strayed ranch stock, not Spanish lines. The mystique of the wild horse is such that Spanish descent is often used as an argument for the iconic status of the herds. This paper considers the legal position and reactions to the thriving Pine Nut herds, arguing that legal protection is only attractive to the horses when seen as in danger of disappearance. When that changes, the mood about the horses also changes, placing them in the category of an invader species, and thus, at risk of capture and removal by the BLM.  Current legislation its legal position for the wild herds is inadequate as there is too much left as indeterminate when the herds are protected from the perspective of being cultural icons rather than through nature conservation or wildlife management.

Presenter: Ingibjörg Sigurðardóttir, Hólar University College Iceland and Guðrún Helgadóttir, Professor, Department of Business & IT, University College of Southeast Norway & Department of Rural Tourism, Hólar University College Iceland.
Land-use conflicts in equestrian tourism – The case of Iceland

The Icelandic horse has been part of the Icelandic society since settlement in the second half of the 9th century. The horse was used for riding and carrying. Travelling long distances in a rough landscape was a significant part of the role of the horse. Trails, used by riding and walking travellers, were shaped during the centuries. In the last decades, when the horse had become a leisure horse instead of being a working horse, new riding trails have been formed, mainly in the lowland of the country and in many cases next to main roads for driving traffic. Travelling by horses for few days is a common practice of Icelandic riders during the summertime. Travelling with a group of own horses and along with few human friends for 2-10 days is favoured by Icelandic riders. Both old and new riding trails are being used by domestic horse enthusiasts as well as equestrian tourism businesses in Iceland.

Equestrian tourism has been a subject of research for several years in Iceland. Despite the importance of trails for riders and hikers, research related to the use of such trails has been scarce. This research asks if Icelanders travelling by horses in Iceland do experience disturbance and/or conflicts regarding the use of trails and other geographical areas in Iceland. Data are gathered by a questionnaire among domestic horse enthusiasts and by semi-structured interviews with experienced riders travelling by own horses around the country. The research is being conducted in summer 2018. A preliminary study indicates that riders do experience conflicts with driving traffic and in some cases with landowners where they are travelling.