OWNERS will put their own lives and those of others at risk to rescue a trapped horse, a transport survey by the British Animal Rescue and Trauma Care Association (BARTA) has found.

In February last year, BARTA set out to gather data about accidents and incidents in horse transport in the UK over the past five years.

The researchers wanted to see a “snapshot” of what was happening, and has now published its findings in a paper titled An Initial Review of Horse Transport Safety.

Jim Green, of BARTA, told H&H the organisation is now planning further academic research to build on these initial findings, which will be coming “shortly”.

“We want to look at the causes behind problems in transportation — we want to find out why rather than just coming up with a mechanical solution to the problem,” he said.

He added that further research is being undertaken with a view to bringing in recommendations that will improve the safety of horses in transport.

The organisation received 129 responses to its initial survey, which it ran in collaboration with Intelligent Horsemanship, which showed that 104 incidents took place between 28 April 2010 and the closing date, 30 June 2015.

Among the key findings were that people will put their own and others’ lives at risk to rescue their horses.

“The fire service has grave concerns about the risk of people being seriously or fatally injured when endeavouring to rescue their animals from danger, and this includes rescuing horses in trouble inside transportation vehicles,” said the review.

It also found equines were likely to be badly injured in any transportation incident and that horses were as likely to go over a front-facing barrier as a rear-facing one.

Other findings included: more than 75% of incidents involved a horse’s behaviour; few horses had any “systematic training” in loading or travelling, and almost a third of incidents happened while the horsebox or trailer was stationary.


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“In order to press for change in all aspects of horse transport, the authors would suggest the importance of setting up a working group, which may fall under the Equine Sector Council, with representation from all areas of the transport and horse industry,” the study concludes.

“It would be within the remit of this group to set standards and continue to make improvements to vehicle design, to develop horse training, and owner/driver awareness.”