About 100 horses which pull taxi carriages along Blackpool promenade had microchips inserted into their necks by a vet on Monday (9 July) in a bid to help regulate their working hours.
The microchips, which cost around £4 each, were donated by the Blackpool branch of the RSPCA, while the vet costs were met by the International League for the Protection of Horses (ILPH).
RSPCA inspector Simon Small, who helped co-ordinate the venture, told H&H: “This is about good practice and responsible ownership in the 21st century. It will help to monitor how long the horses are worked, but it will also mean that no one can dispute their ownership.”
He added: “The idea came from the Blackpool beach donkeys which were all microchipped about four years ago. We just felt it was time to bring the landau horses into line with these.”
Blackpool council enforcement officers armed with electronic scanners will conduct random spot checks that will become more frequent during the main holiday season.
A spokesman for the council said: “A landau horse is restricted to 7hr per day with an hour for lunch. They cannot work before 9am or after 11pm.”
She added: “If those regulations are broken the handler will have to appear before the Public Protection Sub-Committee who will examine [the case] and could, in theory, revoke their licence.”
Mr Small said the plan was drawn up in consultation with Alison Metcalf, chairman of Blackpool Landau Owners Association, who was persuaded of the benefits. She told BBC News: “Most horses work one day on one day off and in the summer they only work for short periods at a time but this will help make sure they are not overworked.”
Last year the horses were fitted with “nappies” to prevent them leaving dung on the promenade.