Pit Schlechter
FECTU and the context for work
with horses in Europe
the European Draught Horse Federation
founded in 2003
18 member associations in 10 European countries
Main aims:
• promote cooperation between member organisations
• advocate use of animals as a sustainable energy source
• render draught animals more effective
• guarantee their welfare
FECTU – difficulties and problems
Some 23 different languages spoken in Europe
Geographic dispersal of members
Limited financial resources
Numerous different uses of draught horses
Differing opinions and interests
e.g. professionals vs. hobbyists
• Partly unusable horses
• Huge difference between Northern/ Western and
Central/Eastern/Southern Europe
Attitude towards physical efforts - Humans
• Negative: hard physical
• Positive: spend money for
efforts to earn money with
spoiling energy in
productive work
unproductive fitness training
Attitude towards physical efforts - Horses
• Negative: work with
horses is backward and
• Positive: use
sport/leasure horses is
The scenery of
“animals in the good old days”
• Enforces the image of backwardness in
nostalgic countryside events
The scenery of
“animals in the good old days”
• Is used by agro-industry to hide
the high-tech industrial food production
Animals as models for machines
• Animals replaced by machines
tractors, trucks, …
• Machines intended to be as good as animals
• Animals used instead of machines:
mules, honeybees, dolphins, sea lions, …
A Future for Working Horses:
Two Tendencies
1. Using working horses in niches
Profitability has a subsidiary role
Support of local decision-makers
Fits with existing economic & social setting
Improves quality of life
Engages excluded groups
Fits with trend towards “sustainability”
return of working horses in urban areas
A Future for Working Horses:
Two Tendencies
2. extensive return of draught horses in agriculture,
forestry etc.
• Long time vision
• Fundamental changes of the political, economic
and social context
e.g. from agro-industry to “peasantry”
• Animal energy seen as a solution for:
– Environment issues
e.g. low input farming, soil compaction, biodiversity, carbon footprint
– Fossil energy shortage
– Poverty and food sovereignty
• No real bottom-up movement for animal traction
• Machinery: a vicious circle
– Insufficient demand hinders development and mass
production with lower prices
– lack of varied and affordable machinery hinders
retention/conversion to horse power
• Image problem:
– advantages of modern use of animal energy: unknown, ignored, denied
– disadvantages of industrialised farming: unknown, ignored, denied
e.g. extreme dependency on: machinery manufacturers, parts suppliers, prices
for fuel, chemical fertilisers, seeds and pesticides, massive state subsidies,
market regulations …)
A new context for the promotion of animal energy in
the current discussions about:
renewable energy,
climate change,
agricultural policy,
the empire of agro-industry,
food security etc.
Strong international networking is needed
Pit Schlechter
FECTU and the context for work
with horses in Europe

FECTU and the context for work with horses in Europe