National radio station Radio 5 Live has been praised for helping to educate the public on why they should not feed horses after misleading comments were made on air.
H&H reported last week that a guest on the breakfast show told the presenter she fed leftover fruit and vegetables to horses near her home.
He responded: “Sounds like a plan!” to the consternation of many of those who have been trying to promote why feeding horses without owners’ permission is not acceptable.
Having been contacted by people and organisations including the British Horse Society (BHS) and H&H, presenter Chris Warburton said he was “very happy” to correct the advice, during his breakfast show on Saturday (17 July).
He and co-host Eleanor Oldroyd welcomed BHS welfare education officer Emmeline Hannelly on to the programme.
Chris introduced the issue by describing the comment and adding that feeding others’ horses is “not a good idea actually”.
“We just wanted to clarify what should happen,” he said, adding that many listeners had been in touch that morning to say they were heading into the countryside that day, and might then encounter horses.
Emmeline told listeners: “Although feeding horses may seem harmless, your kindness could kill.”
She explained many of the risks, including colic, choke and the fact some healthy-looking horses may have health issues and be on restricted diets, and in response to the presenter’s question on whether nothing at all should be fed, even grass, she said: “We would ask people not to feed horses at all. We’d ask you to admire them in the field as they are, please do not feed them.”
She pointed out other risks; last week a fight broke out in a group of horses being fed over the fence; one was kicked and suffered an arterial bleed.
Chris said when the comment was made, he remembered walking past horses recently and saw signs warning people not to feed them.
Asked how aware the public was of the issues, Emmeline pointed out that those who do feed others’ horses may think they have suffered no ill effects but this could be down to luck, or there might have been issues as a result that they were unaware of.
“If you feed horses, you’re putting them at risk,” she said. “Please don’t ignore the signs and even if there aren’t any signs, please don’t feed the horses. If owners lose their horses because someone else has fed them, that’s absolutely tragic.”
Chris added: “Absolutely. Stand there and admire them. Beautiful beasts, let’s keep them safe.”
Emmeline told H&H after the show the BHS very much appreciated the chance to be on air.
“I know they have their schedules and times set in advance so it was great,” she said. “I had four or five minutes, which meant I could highlight a number of points.”
She added that she believes many people who feed others’ horses without permission do so out of kindness and a lack of education, so the opportunity to get the right message out was a good one.
The BHS is also working on a video on the issue aimed at the general public, and Emmeline added that the key is getting the message across in the right way.
“In this case, the radio station listened to the equestrian industry and took steps to make sure the comment was corrected, so I think that’s a very positive step,” she said. “They were very good to get us on so quickly and we appreciate it.”
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