Our approach to welfare assessment

We assess the welfare of horses, donkeys and mules using scientifically-validated welfare assessment techniques. Our findings are used to prioritise our interventions, evaluate the effectiveness of our programmes and engage with communities.

Our welfare assessment tools

Our main approach involves our Standardised Equine Based Welfare Assessment Tool (SEBWAT) (PDF 261KB) The tool was originally developed with the University of Bristol in 2002 and was revised for our field conditions in 2011. It gives an overview of the general welfare condition of working equine animals, of individual animals and at a group level. The tool is made of 40 animal-based measures of working equine welfare, which include:

  • descriptive information and identification
  • general health
  • behaviour
  • body lesions
  • deliberately-induced conditions
  • pain-related issues
  • hooves and limbs

We use a range of evolving tools for specific projects which require more detail. For example, we have a tool for welfare assessment in farriery interventions and one to investigate potential new locations to work in.

    Our welfare assessors

    Within each of the countries we work, we have local staff trained in welfare assessment. To become a trained assessor, the person undergoes a comprehensive training course and must pass a standard assessment. This ensures we can rely on the results collected by different people in the same way. Since 2011, more than 96 Brooke staff and partners have qualified as welfare assessors.

    Welfare assessment by our partner in Guatemala

    Welfare assessment by our partner in Guatemala

    Applying our results

    We apply the results from the welfare assessment data collected. It has a variety of uses, including:

    • informing decisions on new locations to work by gathering information on the welfare status of a new population of animals or community of people
    • prioritising our interventions using the data to make evidence-based decisions on the most prevalent or severe welfare issues to intervene
    • monitoring changes over time by tracking what has changed, both positively or negatively, between one assessment and the next
    • evaluating the effectiveness of our programmes by combining data from the animals with the discussions with people to determine the impact we have had
    • engaging with communities by demonstrating how to assess animals and sharing the results we collect to raise awareness of animal welfare.