The not so obvious
There are welfare problems that are obvious such as emaciation and neglect, and then there are those which are more hidden. Those where the horses appear to be well looked after…well fed, well groomed, well cared for.
Horses have evolved as social animals living in groups who move around and spend about 16 hours grazing. Modern horse management practices often barely fulfill these needs which may result in health and/or behavioural problems.
It is not appropriate to have horses stabled about 22 or 23 hours a day. A stable is not a natural environment. They need to be allowed plenty of turnout and exercise.
It is not appropriate to keep horses in isolation. Seeing other horses over the stable door is not enough. They need social contacts with the opportunity to interact freely.
It is not appropriate to feed horses a low forage diet and highly concentrated feeds. They require a high forage diet both for health and behavioural reasons.
Training should comply with the horse’s learning behaviour and use positive training methods which have the best interest of horses in mind.
Horses are creatures of habit. A lot of changes constantly also may be a great source of stress to them.
If those needs are not being met there are welfare issues though not as obvious. It is those that are most difficult to address and frequently met with resistance and denial due to other human interests.