Exclusive sneak peek from our honorary and founding fellows: Part 5 Dr. Camie Heleski


Discussing the Social License to Operate, Diversity, Equality and Inclusion and Accessibility, and other professional updates.

In an exclusive preview, we gain valuable insights from Dr. Camie Heleski, an esteemed honorary fellow, as she explores critical facets of the equestrian world. Dr. Heleski's extensive experience and commitment to equine welfare, diversity, equity, and inclusion shines through as she addresses pivotal issues that shape the future of equestrianism.

The Social License to Operate: A Balancing Act

At the forefront of Dr. Heleski's discussions is the concept of the Social License to Operate (SLO), a vital element determining the acceptance of equestrian practices by society. Driven by her involvement in the FEI Equine Ethics and Wellbeing Commission, she underscores the importance of responsible horse use to maintain societal support. The current landscape sees a delicate balance, but societal concerns regarding practices like whip use and inadequate horse care pose potential threats.

Dr. Heleski highlights the increasing scrutiny both within and outside the horse world. Practices such as confining horses for extended periods, neglecting signs of pain, breeding unfit animals, and overlooking the well-being of retired horses have raised alarms. Societal approval, once eroded, can lead to restrictions, negative media coverage, a decline in public trust, and eventually, political disfavor. This unsettling trajectory could even culminate in stringent regulations or, in extreme cases, a complete ban, mirroring the disappearance of jump racing in parts of Australia.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: Paving the Way Forward

Beyond equine welfare, Dr. Heleski is actively engaged in matters of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (DEI&A). As the co-chair of the National Association of Equine Affiliated Academics (NAEAA) DEI committee, she is dedicated to fostering an inclusive environment within the equestrian community. Her fall presentation on allyship delves into the nuances of appropriate dialogue, emphasising 'things to say' and 'things to not say.'

Exploring the Senses of the Horse: A Collaborative Endeavor

In her ongoing collaboration with Dr Maria Rørvang, Dr. Heleski is venturing into a book chapter that explores the senses of the horse. This project signifies a continued dedication to advancing our understanding of these magnificent animals.

As we glean insights from Dr. Camie Heleski's multifaceted contributions, it becomes evident that the future of equestrianism relies on a delicate balance between equine welfare, societal acceptance, and a commitment to diversity and inclusion. Dr. Heleski's work urges the equestrian community to navigate these challenges with foresight and responsibility.