The Horse Trust has slammed the Scottish government for wasting time and money “reinventing the wheel” with its new equine welfare code of practice, arguing that the UK already has a code.
The Equine Industry Welfare Guides Compendium was drawn up by the industry in 2002 as a guide to good standards of care for police, councils and welfare bodies.
Brigadier Paul Jepson, chief executive of the Horse Trust, said: “We all recognise that a code of practice is necessary, but it seems crazy that Scotland is going off on its own.
“The equine guidelines compendium was drawn up in advance of the Welfare Act and was written by [environmental research specialists] ADAS with Defra funding. Eighty thousand copies were distributed through the country to police and other authorities.
“They should be looking to embrace the [existing] welfare document which is a lot more in-depth than this Mickey Mouse thing they are creating.
“It is grossly inferior to something which already exists, with government backing,” he continued.
The compendium is due to be updated in the summer and Brig Jepson says this revamp should have formed the basis of the equine codes of practice.
But a spokesman for the Scottish Executive Environment and Rural Affairs Department (SEERAD) said it felt it was important to create a totally new document as it will be the first statutory code on welfare drawn up by the government.
“The compendium is a set of guidelines which was drawn up by the industry, but the equine welfare code of practice is the first time a government has been tasked with creating a code.
“We have consulted with the industry and welfare groups in drawing up the draft code, so they have had their input.
“The consultation period for the draft code ends on 11 January and after that we shall be looking at all the responses.”
Download the Scottish draft equine code of practice from the government website. www.scotland.gov.uk/publications/2007/10/16091227/0
Meanwhile, the new Welsh draft code of practice for the horse has now gone out to consultation. The consultation runs until 21 January.
The Welsh code can be found at http://new.wales.gov.uk/consultations/currentconsultation/envandcouncurrcons