UK Government urged to follow Wales in fight against fly grazing

Six leading horse charities are welcoming plans by the Welsh Government to introduce legislation to tackle fly grazing of horses and ponies in Wales and are urgently asking the UK Government to follow suit in England to help stem the horse crisis escalating across the country.

As 7,000 horses are at risk of needing rescue in England and Wales, Redwings, the RSPCA, World Horse Welfare, The British Horse Society, Blue Cross and HorseWorld have released a series of devastating case studies to illustrate how current laws permit horses to suffer needlessly including:

  • Horses allowed to stray on railway lines in Bristol, possibly in an attempt by their owner to get rid of their injured animals
  • A foal left to drown in a river in Essex
  • A mare abandoned on an industrial estate near Newcastle
  • A stretch of land in Kent with more than 100 horses running feral – one mare with a broken pelvis lay for days with her dead foal when left to give birth alone
  • Six horses left to starve in Blackpool

Click here for more detail on these cases.

The plans by the Welsh Government were announced during July . However the UK government has no such plans in England at a time when thousands of horses are at risk of suffering and death and landowners and local authorities struggle to cope with the problem.

Alun Davies AM, Minister for Natural Resources and Food, will announce plans including new legislative solutions in Wales to tackle the problem, caused by difficulties in identifying horse owners and irresponsible ownership, in the early autumn.

The announcement comes at a time when equine problems in the UK are at crisis point. The situation was highlighted recently with the case of horse trader Tom Price who was found guilty of 57 animal welfare and cruelty charges and is thought to own 2,500 horses across Wales and England.

RSPCA Head of Public Affairs, David Bowles, said: “We welcome the Welsh Government’s plans to tackle this long-standing problem and hope the legislation will be strong and effective if the current situation is to be reversed.

“We were also disappointed when the UK Government decided to shut down the National Equine Database and urge the government to reinstate a robust and thorough system of linking horses to owners.

“This problem does not just affect Wales – we need action and a solution across England as well as Wales.”

Chairman of the National Equine Welfare Council and Head of Welfare at Redwings Nic De Brauwere said: “The six major horse welfare charities recently released a report backed by the National Equine Welfare Council showing that charities are all working at capacity, with many thousands of abused or abandoned horses in our care and we are working with hundreds more that need our help but we have nowhere for them to go.”

World Horse Welfare Chief Executive Roly Owers said: “What we need is better legislation and enforcement to hold irresponsible owners to account and more support for local authorities to deal with the numbers of horses left to breed, graze, suffer and often die on other people’s land. If Wales takes action and the rest of the UK does not, the problem will simply move over the border. We need a joined-up approach.”

While charities struggle with the unprecedented numbers of horses and ponies needing help they are urging members of the public who can offer horses a good home to a horse from a charity to give them a second chance at life and make space for others who need help.

They are also asking people concerned about the issue of fly grazing and abandoned horses to contact their MPs asking them to reinstate a National Equine Database and follow the Welsh Government’s lead in exploring all legislative options.