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A Day in the Life of....... a Equine Welfare Integrity Officer

20 October 2015

About Me

My name is Jeremy (Jez) Willis.  I am originally from Petworth in West Sussex where I started out riding ponies then hunters and polo ponies, and also Point to Pointers. This is probably where my passion for horseracing started.

On leaving school at the age of sixteen, I moved up to the Cotswolds to Stow-on-the-Wold, where I started working in the Racing Stables of David (The Duke) Nicholson, with the aspirations of becoming a National Hunt Jockey. By the age of 19 it was apparent that I was not going to make the grade as a Jockey, so soon turned my attention to carving out a long term career in racing.

I loved going racing as a Stable Lad at every opportunity, so I knew that being a Travelling Head Lad was my career goal. For three years I was the second Travelling Head Lad for Mr Nicholson.  I was then given the opportunity to take on the Travelling Head Lads position. I jumped at this unique chance!

During the 15 years as Travelling Head Lad, I was fortunate enough to travel and be associated with so many good horses, such as Viking Flagship,Very Promising, Barton Bank, Mysylv and Waterloo Boy, amongst others.

Shortly before Mr Nicholson retired I was looking for my next career move.

In 1998 a position of a Veterinary Technician for The Jockey Club came up. This was an ideal opportunity to cement my continued life in racing, a second career in the sport that I loved.

I have worked for The Jockey Club, now the BHA, for over 15 years now.

About The Job

The Equine Welfare Integrity Officer’s (EWIO’s) role encompasses both the Equine Welfare/Sampling Unit duties and the Stable Security/Integrity role.

The EWIO Team at each race meeting consists of a minimum of 3 people. This can be increased up to 8 people on a day meeting, depending on the size and scope of the meeting. Night Duties are also covered and pre-race day duties, again depending on the quality of the meeting.

The role of the EWIO is to ensure the required standards of equine welfare and integrity are maintained both in and around the Stable Yard.

The EWIO Team control access to the racecourse stables, by managing personnel access They do this by checking and recording the accreditation of all those entering the stables. They also identify all of the horses when they arrive at the stables. This is done by scanning the horse’s individual microchip number and reconciling it against the list of the day’s runners. 

At this point, a visual check is made of each horse, relating to any possible welfare or bio security issues. Skin conditions, cuts and general overall condition. Any issues or concerns identified by the EWIO’s are escalated to the Veterinary Officer on duty, also written down and reported on The Daily Report Form submitted to BHA Head Office.

Horse passport checks are also carried out by the EWIO Team, both for more detailed identification, and also to ensure they are correctly vaccinated against Equine Influenza.

Shortly before the first race, one of the EWIO Team will go to the Sample Unit, to assume the role of “Sampling EWIO”

They are then predominantly based in the Sampling Unit during racing, taking post race samples, packing and processing them to strict Standard operating procedures, which requires meticulous attention to detail.

This role also requires a high level of horse handling skills and welfare recognition.


While there are no formal qualifications required to be an Equine Welfare Integrity Officer (EWIO), a high level of experience and ability to work with Thoroughbreds is essential.

A strong personality is beneficial along with the ability to communicate with a wide customer base.

A genuine interest in the Welfare of the Horse, and the integrity of the sport.

A good work ethic is required, as is reliability.

The EWIO role is very much “Team orientated “ so the ability to work and fit in with the team is a must.

Computer literacy is required, as is all means of communication both verbal and written.

A neat and methodical approach to all aspects of the role. Attention to detail.

Current UK driving license. (pref clean)

My Advice

Be prepared to work within a team, as well as being confident to take on responsibility on your own.  The EWIO role can be long days, as well as some night duties.

Travelling is also a big part of the working day, so be prepared for long driving and early starts. Some overnights away are also necessary.

Try to get as much "hands on" horse handling experience as you can, as this will help you in the role. When vacancies arise, they will be advertised on our industry job board, so make sure you register yourself and set up job alerts for when new jobs are posted

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