A survey to uncover the standard of livery yards in the UK, which may lead to a licensing scheme, was launched last week (17 July) by some of the main bodies in the equine welfare industry.
Representatives from the British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA), World Horse Welfare, the British Horse Society, RSPCA, Association of British Riding Schools, South Essex Insurance Brokers and local government organisations have formed a working party to carry out research — and decided to open a survey up to the general public.
The survey aims to offer a clearer picture of the standard of accommodation available and services offered to horse owners, to back up the industry’s planned call for a licensing system next year.
World Horse Welfare receives around 30,000 calls a year and many relate to horses at livery.
The charity’s deputy chief executive Tony Tyler said: “We are not seeking to impose a gold standard, but we believe that there may be holes in the current system that lead to welfare problems.
“We must find solutions and make improvements for vulnerable horses.”
Currently there is no record of how many horses are kept at livery in the UK, the number of yards or the welfare standards under which they operate.
In the past calls have been made for livery yards to be licensed (news, 8 March 2007) but as yet there are no legal requirements.
BEVA chairman elect Chris House said: “We are in the early stages of discussions about licensing Britain’s livery yard system to ensure better welfare standards.
“We agreed it is necessary to survey those involved to gather the facts before any decisions are made.”
The survey will run online until the end of September and asks questions on topics ranging from whether the premises are likely to suffer flooding, to what vaccination programmes are in place. The results will then be reviewed and the best course of action will be decided.
An RSPCA spokesman added: “The information it provides will help us tackle any animal welfare problems. We urge people with first-hand experience to take part.”
It was hoped that livery yard licensing would be brought in as secondary legislation to the Animal Welfare Act in 2007, but Defra has said it will not be considered until 2009.
Visit: www.liveryyardsurvey.co.uk to register your views.
This news story was first published in Horse & Hound (24 July, ’08)