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The maximum fine for illegal farriery — £1,000 — is too low and no deterrent to those who break the law, says the Farriers Registration Council (FRC).

The FRC is calling on Defra to increase the fine to £5,000 and on magistrates to get tough.

In the past nine months, the FRC has taken five individuals to court for shoeing horses without the necessary qualifications — three were repeat offenders.

And last month, the RSPCA prosecuted a man who was posing as a farrier at Appleby horse fair.

Felicity Heather, registrar of the FRC, said: “Owners are putting the welfare of their horses at risk. The FRC considers a more realistic maximum fine level for offences under the Farriers (Registration) Act 1975 would be £5,000.”

Under the Act it is an offence for anyone other than a farrier, a registered apprentice or vet to shoe a horse.

But a Defra spokesman said: “There are currently no plans to increase the level of fines for illegal farriery.

“However, Defra is aware of the concerns of the FRC on this and other aspects of the Act. We will continue to work closely with the FRC on all these issues.”

Cases brought by the FRC this year include a Doncaster man fined £750 for each of two charges — it was his fourth offence of illegal farriery; a Lancashire man who was given a conditional discharge for his third offence, and brothers from Glamorgan who have been illegally working as farriers for around 17 and 13 years.

They were each fined just £250 despite it being their second court appearance.

Mrs Heather said: “Magistrates seem too easily persuaded when respondents plead poverty.

“The FRC will be raising its concerns over recent lenient penalties imposed for repeat offenders [with the Magistrates Association].”

All registered farriers are issued with an annual registration card and a car window sticker.

To check your farrier is registered visit: www.farrier-reg.gov.uk or tel: 01733 319911

This article was first published in Horse & Hound (11 February, ’10)