Royal backing for horse rescue charity

The work of a Norfolk-based rescue charity will play an important role in shaping worldwide horse welfare poli-cies, a leading equine sports figure said this weekend.

The work of a Norfolk-based rescue charity will play an important role in shaping worldwide horse welfare poli-cies, a leading equine sports figure said this weekend.

Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein of Jordan, a former Olympic showjumper and president of the Federation Equestre Internationale, said the International League for the Protection of Horses (ILPH) charity set a fine example in pro-tecting horses' welfare.

She was speaking during a fact-finding mission to its Snetterton base on Saturday.

Princess Haya flew in with her entourage in two helicopters for the two-hour visit - and was met by two executive Land Rovers sent up from London just for the 500m drive to the charity's visitor centre.

Trailed everywhere by her own personal film crew, she heard a talk from ILPH chief executive John Smales on the work of the organisation, met some of the grooms and horses currently being cared for, and toured the facilities.

The daughter of the late king of Jordan, and wife of the current president of UAE and ruler of Dubai, Princess Haya was elected last March as president of the FEI, the international governing body for all Olympic equestrian disciplines.

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She said: “I've heard a lot about the work the ILPH do here, it has had a long relationship with the FEI and it was because of that that I made the time to come here and find out more and further concrete the partnership.

“Their vision is about putting horses first, which I passionately agree with, and it has been very interesting to see first-hand the work they have done and tour the wonderful facilities.”

Mr Smales said: “It has been a privilege to welcome the princess here. We have had a long association with the FEI and have been their welfare arm for eight years.

“We have profound knowledge of horses of all kinds but particularly knowledge of sport horses. We can give the FEI advice, check for abuse and ensure that the demands that are being made on horses are not doing them harm.

“It means a lot for the princess to say such complementary things about us. We know she is extremely enthusiastic and knowledgeable - you don't get to be president of the FEI without having considerable talent. If she says it's good here we can rest assured that it is.”

The ILPH is the largest rehomer of horses in the UK and currently has about 300 in a series of rehabilitation cen-tres, many rescued after being misused and abused in equestrian sports.

Princess Haya is not the first royal visit to its headquarters, with the ILPH regularly welcoming Princess Anne, the charity's president, to its Snetterton base.