The British Horse Society (BHS) has expressed concern over horse welfare after the Hunting Bill was voted on in the House of Commons earlier this week (Monday 16 December).

The Society is worried that a full or partial ban on hunting will affect the welfare of horses involved, and has submitted a case outlining their fears to Alun Michael, the Rural Affairs Minister and Minister for the Horse responsible for seeing the Hunting Bill through Parliament.

The Hunting Bill aims to ban staghunting and hare coursing, with foxhunting being allowed to continue under strict licensing. The Bill passed its Second Reading by 368 votes to 155 following six hours of debate on Monday evening.

Kay Driver, BHS chief executive, said: “It is very worrying because since the FMD outbreak of 2001, there has been an increase of farm diversification making the horse industry very important to the rural economy.

“The Society already deals with numerous welfare cases each year and we foresee an increase of neglect and abandonment as horse values fall. Many of our older members can recall childhood scenes of farm horses being led, nose to tail, to the slaughterhouses following mechanisation of farm machinery. We don’twant to see a repeat of that.”

Mrs Driver added, “This Bill seems to be a ‘bit of a muddle’ and doesn’t please anybody.

“The lack of income to the West Country will potentially lead to a direct loss of livelihood for some trade members who run businesses in the area, such as livery yards, saddlers and other associated trades. We are also very concerned at the effect on the horse breeding industry as demand for this type of animal disappears.”