Equestrian law firms say fly-grazing is a growing issue

  • Imagine checking your horses and finding 60 yearlings have been dumped in your field overnight.

    That was the situation for a Welsh breeder and one many more people could face, say two equestrian law firms.

    Sarah Jordan of Clarke Willmott solicitors in Southampton told H&H that, until six months ago, she would receive a couple of calls a month about abandoned horses. Now she gets the same number each week.

    She wants the law changed to allow landowners to passport and sell dumped horses. Currently they find themselves in limbo – passports can only be applied for by the owner.

    “There seems to be a loophole in the law and it’s allowing people to take advantage of land that does not belong to them,” she said.

    One of her clients, who does not want to be named, has had a group of 21 gypsy-owned horses fly-grazing her Somerset land for 18 months.

    “Our fences have been stolen, the barbed wire cut and the police tell us there is nothing they can do because it’s a civil matter,” she said.

    Vets have refused to passport the animals because she does not own them.

    Matthew Knight, of Knight’s Solicitors, Tunbridge Wells, also receives two or more calls a week, but in his area the horses are more likely to be dumped than to be illegally grazing.

    He said: ” I think it’s a combination of the expense of passporting and microchipping a horse and the economic downturn.”

    Both law firms work with specialist bailiffs who will take over the legalities of removing the horses, for a fee.

    This news story was first published in the current issue of H&H (17 May 2012)

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