Developing New Ethical Standards for Horses in Competitive Sports


Akaash Maharaj, Chief Executive Officer, Global Organization of Parliamentarians Against Corruption

Horse sports are as old as civilization itself, but the ethical questions they raise have become especially controversial this century. Public scandals around performance-enhancing drugs, abusive training techniques, and catastrophic injuries have given rise to an increasingly polarized debate, especially between urban and rural communities.

This has thrown questions of animal welfare into sharp relief and has nurtured a desire within the Canadian equestrian community to develop a consensus on the overarching ethical principles that should shape the sport's regulatory responses to such controversies. However, these are profoundly difficult and emotive issues, over which equally well-intentioned people can and do disagree fiercely: they are, at their hearts, fundamental questions of ethics and responsibilities in a sport where one athlete can not make his own choices or speak for his own interests.

This presentation will report on the progress of a series of public consultations through the Royal Society of Arts, engaging both proponents and critics of equestrian sports, to identify core principles that could form the foundation of a just, effective and humane public standards system for equestrian sports.


  1. Functionality of the Code of Practice public comment periods.
  2. How public feedback is tangibly addressed and incorporated into the Code process.
  3. Prospective enhancements to the public comment period process.

Akaash Maharaj is CEO of the Global Organization of Parliamentarians Against Corruption. As an athlete, he was a triple gold medalist for Canada at the International Championships of Equestrian Skill-at-Arms. He also led Canada’s national equestrian federation as its 2008-2012 CEO. During his tenure, the Canadian Equestrian Team achieved its greatest Olympic and greatest Paralympic results of all time. His personal web site is