Fly-grazing legislation will be tightened up in Wales, but leading equine charities warn that the rest of the UK needs to follow suit.
Charities say that “horse dumping” in the UK is at “crisis point”, as an estimated 7,000 horses are at risk of needing rescuing in England and Wales.
Redwings, the RSPCA, World Horse Welfare, the British Horse Society, Blue Cross and HorseWorld recently released details of several case studies to illustrate how the current laws permit horses to suffer needlessly.
They described horses being deliberately allowed to stray on to railway lines and a foal being left to drown in a river in Essex.
Although details of the plans will not be released until the autumn, charities support Wales’ proactivity.
“We hope the legislation will be strong and effective if the current situation is to be reversed,” said David Bowles of the RSPCA.
Nic de Brauwere, chairman of the National Equine Welfare Council (NEWC) and head of welfare at Redwings, added: “A report backed by NEWC shows that charities are all working at capacity, with many thousands of abused or abandoned horses in our care.
“[There are] hundreds more that need our help, but we have nowhere for them to go.”
World Horse Welfare’s Roly Owers said “better legislation and enforcement” is needed, to “hold irresponsible owners to account”.
“There needs to be more support for local authorities to deal with the numbers of horses left to breed, graze, suffer and even die on other people’s land,” he said.
The charities have urged the Government to extend the new legislation to include the whole of the UK.
“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,” added Mr Owers.
This news story was first published in Horse & Hound magazine (8 August 2013)