The British horse industry and Horse & Hound need your support in our campaign to fight new transport rules encroaching on our sport.
In the 2 April issue, H&H reported how the UK body responsible for enforcing transport regulations, the Vehicle Operator Services Agency (VOSA) had banned anyone with a full-time job from driving their HGV (over 7.5 tonne) lorry at weekends by strictly interpreting a European law.
After several weeks of work by the British Horse Society (BHS), British Equestrian Federation (BEF) and the British Driving Society (BDS), in conjunction with a number of MPs, we launched a petition calling for drivers of large horseboxes to be excluded from laws over compulsory and prohibitive rest periods (news, 21 May).
Now we are stepping up that campaign with the help of leading equine solicitor Jacqui Fulton, of law firm Blythe Liggins, and the support of a number of equine bodies.
“These rules are extremely restrictive,” said Ms Fulton, “and ultimately will have an impact on the sport as they will prevent some horse owners/riders from competing their horses.”
Recent spot checks performed by VOSA at Hickstead during the Derby meeting emphasise how critical it is the industry recognises the new transport regulations affecting drivers of horseboxes, and that we join forces to fight for change where we can.
“At the moment, it feels as if legislation is shutting down on the transport of horses from all angles, both for the professional and the non-professional rider,” said H&H Acting Editor Jaki Bell.
“While we fully support any directive that is introduced for reasons of safety, the time has come to do what we can to stop the strict interpretation of EU legislation where it is unreasonable and persuade the powers that be to apply a bit of common sense.
“With the help of the BHS, BEF and BDS, achieving the required number of signatures [100,000] to ensure the EU has to take note should be possible, but we need everybody’s help.”
We need more signatures on our petition and ask readers to write to their MPs demanding for the matter to be brought to the attention of Secretary of State for Transport Lord Adonis and Minister for the Horse Jim Fitzpatrick.
To sign the petition, and for a downloadable sample letter to send to your MP, visit www.horseandhound.co.uk/vosapetition
This article was first published in Horse & Hound (9 July, ’09)