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An ethical framework for the use of horses in competitive sport: theory and function

Campbell, Madeleine


Madeleine Campbell


Growing ethical concern about equestrian sport is reflected in publications by regulatory authorities, animal charities, and the lay press; and in government debate and social media. However, attempts by regulators and stakeholders to address ethical issues in equine sport have been discipline-specific and ad-hoc. Ethical frameworks can help stakeholders to make contextual decisions about what should or should not be done in a particular situation. However, neither existing animal welfare frameworks nor existing sports ethics frameworks provide us with a suitable or sufficient tool for considering ethical issues which can arise in situations where the athlete is a non-human, non-consenting participant. This paper presents a novel ethical framework for the use of horses in sport, with the aim of providing stakeholders with a method of addressing ethical issues which can be consistently applied to promote transparent and defensible decision and policy making across disciplines. The derivation and limitations of the ethical framework are explained. The use of the framework will serve both to underwrite the continuation of the ‘social license’ to use horses in sport and also to enable those within equestrian sport to critically assess existing and proposed practices and to make welfare-improving adjustments to practice if / where necessary.


Campbell, M. (2021). An ethical framework for the use of horses in competitive sport: theory and function. Animals,

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date May 21, 2021
Online Publication Date Jun 9, 2021
Publication Date Jun 9, 2021
Deposit Date Aug 17, 2021
Publicly Available Date Aug 18, 2021
Journal Animals
Publisher MDPI
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Public URL


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