<<< back to article list

365 Days in Horse Country – The Five Freedoms

Blog by Michael Stuart Webb | November 20th, 2013

365 Days in Horse Country – The Five Freedoms


Dr. Paul McGreevy, a globally respected veterinarian, scientists and equine behaviourist, has been at the forefront of an insurgence of science-based equine education in the hopes, that by influencing fresh thinking about our relationships with our horses, we might be in a better place to do the right thing by them.  One of the philosophies supported, and endorsed, by McGreevy are “The Five Freedoms”. 

“The Five Freedoms” were born of an investigation into the welfare of animals under human control.  It was commissioned by the government of the United Kingdom in 1965 and led by Professor Roger Brambell.  Sometimes referred to as the Brambell Report, these principals have been adopted by many animal welfare organizations throughout the world, including the World Organization for Animal Health.

Upon the heels of yesterday’s blog about horse dealers, and the inherent abuse and neglect that oftentimes presents with such a practice, I think it only fitting that we be reminded of those five basic rights and freedoms afforded to all animals in the charge of humans.

These are;

  1. Freedom from thirst, hunger and malnutrition – by providing access to fresh water and a diet to maintain full health and vigor.
  2. Freedom from physical and thermal discomfort – by providing a suitable environment including shelter and a comfortable resting area.
  3. Freedom from pain, injury and disease – by prevention or rapid diagnosis and treatment.
  4. Freedom to express most patterns of normal behavior – by providing sufficient space, proper facilities and company of the animal’s own kind.
  5. Freedom from fear and distress – by ensuring conditions which avoid mental suffering.

These five freedoms have been established as a measure by which we might evaluate and judge the extent to which the needs of animals, in the care of humans, are being met.  The absence of any of these freedoms should be cause for alarm. 

The best way to maintain the status quo is to do nothing.  The only way to effect change is to affect those who would oppose it.  Education is key, and so I invite everyone to be part of the change they wish to see, by raising your voice and raising public awareness.