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Minutes of a General Meeting of the Society held on Tuesday 29th November 2005, at the Farmers' Club, 3 Whitehall Court, London, SW1A 2EL.

Present:  the President Mr. C. Boyde and 24 Fellows and guests.

Apologies for absence had been received from 17 Fellows.

Minutes of the meeting held on 19th October 2005 had been circulated and were approved, subject to the correction of the name of the President!

Matters arising:  none.

Correspondence:  none.

Any Other Business:  none

The President then conferred Honorary Fellowship of the Society on Mr. George Tribe, who retired in 2004 after serving the Society for many years as Honorary Treasurer.  The President then proposed Mr. Geoffrey Serth for the same award; this was carried nem con.

The President then introduced Brigadier Paul Jepson, Chief Executive of the Home of Rest for Horses, to deliver the Centenary Prize Lecture, "Horse Welfare in the United Kingdom".

Brigadier Jepson informed the meeting that the Home of Rest for Horses is the oldest horse charity in the world, founded in Victorian times in response to the concern for animal welfare raised by Anna Sewell's Black Beauty and similar books.  At that time the work mainly concerned the rehabilitation of London cab horses, with cabbies being loaned a horse while their own was recovering.  Nowadays practical horse care is a small part of the Home's work, carried out at a 170-acre farm in the Chilterns which houses 120 retired horses.  Given the number of horses in the country this can only ever be a token exercise, nevertheless the farm has great educational and training value, including intensive grassland management, environmental stewardship and research into the problems of old age in horses such as dental disease and Cushing's.  Related to this is an (involuntary) counselling service, helping owners of horses with no economic role or value come to terms with the inevitability of euthanasia in many such cases.

The bulk of the work of the organisation is educational, ranging from the promotion of responsible horse ownership through the funding (with the BHS) of educational publications, to the funding of residencies for the training of the specialists of the future.  The organisation also funds state-of-the-art equine facilities at most of the UK veterinary schools, and awards ethical research grants relating to a wide range of equine problems, complementing the work of the HBLB by covering situations less immediately relevant to the thoroughbred racehorse.

Brigadier Jepson then showed a short video clip demonstrating the work of the organisation, including aspects of practical grassland management, and research initiatives relating to grass sickness, sweet itch and laminitis.

The meeting concluded with an interesting discussion, including the pros and cons of funding equine rehabilitation programmes.  The President then presented Brigadier Jepson with the Centenary Prize Certificate and cheque.

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