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THE equine industry in Wales received a leg-up last week — with the formation of the Cross Party Group for the Horse.

The group was founded and will be chaired by Brynle Williams, the North Wales Conservative Regional Assembly Member (AM).

Other members include AMs from all the major Welsh parties and equine groups, including the British Horse Society (BHS), the Welsh Pony and Cob Society, Hill Pony Improvement Society and Bransby Home of Rest for Horses.

“This is quite a milestone for the equine industry in Wales,” said Mr Williams, a Welsh pony and cob breeder and judge. “On the list of things we want to look at are welfare issues — and the way the industry is dealing with them — expanding tourism, rights of way, the impact of microchipping legislation being introduced in July.”

He added: “The horse industry has been grossly underestimated in the past — it’s a billion-pound industry, not something on the back of a cigarette packet.”

The BHS will provide the administration for the group, which held its inaugural and founding meeting in Cardiff on 24 March. The second meeting is planned for 2 June.

Jan Roche, BHS development officer for Wales, said: “This will provide the opportunity for two-way communication and the chance to put forward feedback from the industry to the Welsh Assembly and help in policy formation.”

Mr Williams added: “We hope the Welsh group will work in the same way as the Westminster group — it’s needed because there are differences from Wales to England.”

MP Harry Greenway chairs the All Party Parliamentary Group for the Horse at the House of Commons.

This news story was first published in Horse & Hound (2 April, ’09)