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World Horse Welfare

The new World Horse Welfare logo

The International League for the Protection of Horses (ILPH) announces that from today (it is changing its name to World Horse Welfare.


It had long been felt by many that the name ‘International League for the Protection of Horses’ or ‘ILPH’ no longer sufficiently reflects the breadth and depth of the charity’s activities and its desire to focus its efforts on the root causes, as well as the effects, of horse cruelty. In addition, it was felt that the word ‘League’ was outdated, that the name was cumbersome and that it needs to be clearer and sharper to engage with new and wider audiences. The decision followed a strategic review and a year long consultation with the charity’s supporters and staff. The Trustees have unanimously agreed the change. 


The charity’s vision of ‘A world where the horse is used but never abused’ remains at the heart of its philosophy, which is reflected in today’s publication of a charity roadmap that affirms the strategic framework for its three areas of activity: UK Welfare, Campaigns and International Training.


The roadmap is founded on the achievements of the ILPH over the past 81 years; it seeks to build on these successes, but acknowledges the path the charity has increasingly been taking in recent years, and where it intends to go over the next decade. In practice this means:


For UK Welfare:


Establishing a way to define the major causes of horse welfare abuse in the UK and to propose practical solutions.

Focusing on education as a means to tackle the known major causes of horse welfare problems, such as horse obesity.

Maintaining the charity’s position as the premier organisation for the recovery, rehabilitation and rehoming of horses, through its network of Field Officers, and Recovery and Rehabilitation Centres.


For International Training:


Developing a more regional outlook to the charity’s training projects, like its current focus on Central America and Southern Africa, to enable it to maximise the use of native trainers on all its courses.

Establishing a network of affiliates in all countries where it works, to ensure it has a practical link to these countries after it has moved on.

Expanding its projects to include associated skills to make a lasting difference, such as business training.


For Campaigning:


Completing a job that was the charity’s founding campaign, namely the abolition of long distance transportation of horses for slaughter in Europe

Integrating Campaigns further into its UK Welfare and International Training Operations in order to provide comprehensive solutions for the challenges to horse welfare; as is happening with the charity’s current project in Romania

Campaigning to change policy, practice and attitudes to promote the charity’s vision for a world where horses are used but never abused.


The new name, and the over-arching roadmap, is a step change in the life of the charity; it develops the charity’s outlook from an organisation that was once primarily focused around the ‘protection’ of the individual horse to one that supports the ‘welfare’ of many.


Roly Owers, Chief Executive, said:


“We are entering a new chapter in the proud history of our charity. The roadmap sets the framework for a fresh, more focused approach to our work, so that we can have an even greater impact on horse welfare, both in the UK and overseas. We must continue to strive to make clear the importance of what we do to as many people as possible, of all ages. Our new name will help us to raise our profile, it better reflects what we are and our aspirations, and is more meaningful to those who have not yet heard of us.”


Pippa Funnell, a recently appointed Trustee said:


"As a dedicated supporter of the ILPH, I am delighted to see the efforts the charity is making to engage with audiences in, and outside, the horse world. The roadmap clearly lays out the future direction of a charity which has done so much for horses here, and overseas, for over 80 years. We must all do as much as we can to support them.”


Christopher Hall, Chairman, said:


“When I became Chairman I decided that changing our name, a subject we have debated for many years, was a nettle which finally needed to be grasped. There are fond associations with the name ILPH, which I absolutely recognise, but it has become a hindrance rather than a help

to us. Our new name ‘World Horse Welfare’ is a good description of the involvement between man and horse and represents, much better, our work here in the UK, and internationally.”


Sir Peter O’Sullevan, Vice President said:


“I congratulate the charity for taking this important step forward. Welfare is the inspiration behind the ILPH and I am delighted that it appears in the new name.”



Background Information

World Horse Welfare is one of the world’s leading equine welfare charities - working for a world where the horse is used but never abused. Today it focuses on three core areas of work: UK Welfare, Campaigning and International Training.


The charity was founded by Ada Cole.  In 1911 Ada Cole stood on the docks in Antwerp, Belgium. The sight that met her eyes led to the creation of the ILPH. In the midst of the bustle of a busy dockside she noticed old and work worn British horses shuffling off a cargo boat on their painful journey to be pole axed in a Belgian abattoir. What she saw that day horrified her so much that she began a campaign that was to consume her for the rest of her life. Her efforts in raising public awareness to the export of horses for slaughter came to fruition in 1914 with an Act of Parliament, that prohibited the export of horses unless a veterinary inspector certified the animals ‘to be capable of being conveyed and disembarked without cruelty’.


Ada Cole worked as a nurse during the First World War and was arrested for helping allied prisoners escape. She spent three months in a German prison under sentence of death and it was only the armistice that saved her. In January 1919 at the end of the war, at the age of 58, Ada left Belgium to return to Norfolk. In her absence the 1914 Act remained unenforced and it had failed to be enacted. She lobbied tirelessly for an act of Parliament that would finally put a stop to the traffic of British horses for slaughter abroad.


To progress her campaign she founded the International League Against the Export of Horses for Butchery in 1927.  Ada worked tirelessly for the next three years to bring in her own Bill but before she could witness the fruition of her work she died on 17 October 1930 at the age of 70.


In 1937, seven years after Ada Cole’s death, the Exportation of Horses Act, drafted by the first Director of the ILPH, Sir George Cockerill was passed. This fulfilled Ada Cole’s dream, establishing the principle of Minimum Values – that no horse under a certain value could be exported live from Britain – effectively ending the traffic of live horses from Britain for slaughter.  Minimum Values is still in force today.  In the same year the charity changed its name to the International League for the Protection of Horses (ILPH).


Today the charity continues to campaign and lobby to achieve major input into horse welfare legislation in the UK and Europe, including campaigning for an end to the live transport of horses for slaughter in Europe.


For the first 21 years of its existence the charity was primarily a campaigning organisation.  In 1948 this expanded to include UK Welfare when the charity opened its first centre in the UK.  It now operates four Recovery and Rehabilitation centres around Britain: Hall Farm, Norfolk (opened in 1987), Belwade Farm, Aberdeenshire (1990), Penny Farm, Lancashire (2001) and Glenda Spooner Farm, Somerset (2006).  These centres rescue and rehabilitate over 250 horses a year.


Through its UK Welfare operations, today the charity has around 2,000 horses in its ownership at any one time, with over 1,700 of these out on its Loan Scheme.  Each year the UK Operations team, based at the charity’s Head Office in Norfolk, takes over 33,000 calls and the team of 16 Field Officers in Britain investigate more than 1,500 individual welfare concerns.


Through the original transportation campaign the charity had been operating in an international setting since its foundation.  However in 1985 the charity started its first International Training project in Morocco.  This centred education programmes in the basics of saddlery and farriery.  Today these programmes include training in nutrition and basic business skills and are currently transforming the lives of working horses and their owners in the Developing World.  Projects are currently being run in South Africa, Lesotho, The Gambia, Mexico, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Romania.


Few other organisations in the world do as much for horses as World Horse Welfare.



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