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Horse lovers who were horrified by a clothing company advert that featured a hatless rider pulling a horse in the mouth have had their complaints upheld.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) declared last week that Fat Face was in breach of the British Code of Advertising over an image in the company’s autumn brochure, showing a male model on horseback, wearing trainers and no riding hat and yanking a horse in the mouth.

The ASA received 29 complaints, as did Fat Face and H&H.

In upholding the complaints against Fat Face, the ASA stated: “Because the horse appeared to be in distress, [we] considered the image was likely to cause serious offence to some readers.

“We also considered that the advertising condoned and encouraged unsafe practices because the rider was not wearing a riding hat, contrary to generally accepted safety advice.”

But the ASA decided to take no action against the company because it had withdrawn the advert of its own accord, apologised for any offence caused and pledged not to use horses in future marketing material.

The ASA added: “Fat Face [also] said the stable that supplied the horse confirmed the animal had not been hurt during the shoot.”

A spokesman for Fat Face declined to comment on the ASA decision, but in September the company told H&H: “We would never intentionally cause harm to any animal or person and apologise for any upset caused to horse lovers and customers.”

In September, Tricia Flanigan was one of a number of H&H readers who emailed us.

“I am disgusted. What a marketing faux pas for a company aimed at young people,” she wrote.

This article was first published in Horse & Hound (10 December, ’09)