An owner who had to pay £560 to recover her horses from a “green yard” after they escaped on to the road has questioned both the amount charged and the way the situation was dealt with.
Green yards are used by police forces to house temporarily any equines found loose on roads. The owner then has to pay a fee in order to take their horses back.
“It seems a lot of money,” said the Buckinghamshire woman, whose three horses escaped last Monday (31 October). “£560 seems horrendous when all you want is to get your horses back.”
The owner woke in the early hours of the morning to find a number of missed calls on her mobile phone.
She was horrified to be told her horses had broken through the fence of their field, possibly spooked by fireworks, and got on to a main road.
“I immediately rang the police to say I was hitching up the trailer to come and get them,” the owner said.
“They said they’d ring back, but didn’t. I rang again half an hour later and they said the horses had been loaded up five minutes before, but they didn’t know where they were being taken.
“I was so glad they weren’t injured, and were off the road, but it was annoying not being able to collect them.”
The owner was not told the green yard’s phone number or address, and police said they could not contact the driver transporting the horses while he was behind the wheel.
“I was in limbo,” the owner said. “I didn’t know the form and no one could tell me.”
Eventually, she was told to drive to a police station 25 miles away, but staff there “could not fathom the paperwork” and did not have a phone number for the green yard at which the horses were being kept.
“No one did anything wrong, but it was far from ideal that we couldn’t contact these people and no one knew where the horses were,” said the owner.
“Then they said we had to pay £560 and I was in shock – I couldn’t get that much out of the cash machine so had to wait till the bank opened.”
The owner eventually got her horses back at about 2.30pm.
“I do understand there are costs involved,” she said. “But I was trying to work out how it came to that much.
“And there was so much sitting around; the horses could have been home by 6am.”
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A spokesman for Thames Valley Police said: “A loose horse on the road can be dangerous to both the animal and road users.
“The green yard scheme allows officers to deal with loose horses quickly and safely, and allows them to return to other policing duties.
“The costs incurred by police are paid by the owner of the horse, when they can be identified.”
“We would remind everyone of the importance of properly securing horses to minimise the risk to the wider public and the animals themselves.”