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‘Enough is enough’: riders join forces to stop the public from feeding horses

Riders who are sick of the heartbreak caused by members of the public thoughtlessly feeding horses and ponies are doing their best to take action.

The creators of the “Stop feeding our horses” Facebook group hope first to attract as many people as possible, and then together to come up with ideas that might help spread the word.

H&H has reported on countless devastating cases of horses’ suffering as a result of being fed by walkers, who often ignore signs expressly asking them not to do so. During both lockdowns, it has appeared that the number of cases has risen while more people are out in the countryside.

Facebook group creator Hannah Johnstone told H&H the story of Welsh gelding Lightning, who died after he was fed a raw potato, prompted her to act.

“I’m sick of people having to go through this,” she said.

“I thought it would be good to have people from across the country, and brainstorm ways to get the word out.”

Hannah, who has always ridden but lost her own horse in 2019, said she has not personally experienced unwanted feeding of a horse.

“But I’ve had friends in bits because their horses are choking, and I’ve seen all the posts on Facebook; I thought enough is enough.

“I do get it; people haven’t got anything to do and they think it’s nice to feed the pony but it’s part of the countryside code, like keeping your dog on a lead and picking up its mess. We need to welcome people but educate them; come to the countryside, by all means, but don’t do anything silly.

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“I was trying to educate someone on a local page the other day; you can get bitten, cause horses to lean over the fence and then escape; there are so may reasons not to feed them, and all he said was ‘one carrot won’t do any harm’. But that’s not how it works.”

The group has more than 600 members already, and options being discussed include contacting rural police teams and starting petitions.

“I think people are getting so fed up with it, and want to do something,” Hannah said.

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