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What is Social License to Operate

Social License to Operate (SLO) is a phrase increasingly used in our industry. It refers to the permission granted to an activity by the wider public who find it to be legitimate, and those who practise or promote it to be credible and trustworthy. For those of us in the equine world, maintaining SLO hinges on understanding and making every effort to protect the interests of the horse, and in recognising and accepting where change is necessary, and clearly communicating continuous improvement measures to those within and outside our industry.

As social media allows material and opinions to spread far and fast, it becomes ever more important that professionals in our field and respected bodies listen and communicate freely, openly and clearly.


Supporting a prosperous UK saddlery industry, informed by research and pursuing the highest standards, where the welfare of the horse, howsoever employed, is paramount/

The SMS are focused on playing our part to ensure continued social license to keep and ride horses. Our role is to:

  • Set the curriculum and provide training that produces capable, considerate and professional saddle and bridle fitters
  • Support research into the design, manufacture and fitting of saddlery to constantly improve the experience of our horses
  • Set the standards of professional practise, including continued professional development (CPD)
  • Provide the training pathway and support for Trainee Saddlers so that saddlery is well made and safely repaired
  • Work closely with parallel organisations to foster teamwork through knowledge sharing and referrals
  • Offer education and training for riders, drivers and fellow equine professionals

We are proud of upholding high standards in saddlery but we cannot work alone. Maintaining a comfortable, correct, and secure fit for horse and human requires ongoing cooperation and input from the whole team – including Coaches, Vets, musculoskeletal therapists (for horse and human), the footcare professional, the Dentist , and of course the person responsible for day to day care of the horse. Working together as a team, considering all professional input including research, we can adapt where necessary and build our case for continued and compassionate riding and driving.

Posted in Welfare