• Welfare of Horses

    26 March 2018

    Dear Constituent

    Thank you for contacting me about the welfare of horses.
    I am grateful to my colleague, Julian Sturdy MP, for introducing the Control of Horses Act. By granting local authorities and landowners further powers to rescue and re-home fly-grazed horses, and making those responsible liable for any costs incurred, this Act will go a long way towards safeguarding the welfare of horses.
    In addition to the Control of Horses Act, it remains illegal to be cruel to an animal, so the Animal Welfare Act can still be used to prosecute someone for abandoning a horse. Owners or keepers must ensure their horses have an adequate diet and are protected from pain or injury. This legislation is reinforced by the Code of Practice for the Welfare of Horses, Ponies, Donkeys and their Hybrids, which is frequently used in court to demonstrate neglect.
    Enforcement of welfare laws is the responsibility of local councils, which are also responsible for upholding the horse passport regulations more generally, mostly through their Trading Standards or Animal Health Officers.
    I would of course expect these bodies to fulfil their obligations, but if you have concerns over their performance I would urge you to raise them with the responsible authority. If it appears that urgent action is required to protect a horse, reports can also be made to the RSPCA.
    As you might be aware, all horse passports issued since July 2009 must include a microchip number. Recent reforms have included a new requirement for a central database. The Equine Sector Council described these efforts as "a triumph for Britain's horse sector and Defra", so I am confident that this will go a long way further towards helping protect these gentle, sensitive creatures.
    Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.

    Yours sincerely

    Mel Stride

    MP for Central Devon

    Financial Secretary to the Treasury and Paymaster General