‘This makes everything worse’: shock as national radio show ‘encourages’ public feeding of horses

  • An item on the BBC 5 Live breakfast show has caused uproar among equestrians as a reporter “encouraged” feeding past-its-best fruit and veg to others’ horses.

    As part of a feature on eating more sustainably on yesterday morning’s (14 July) programme, reporter Chris Warburton was in Leeds, looking at environmentally friendly ways of eating.

    Near the end of the show, he and his guests, including two local women, were talking about minimising food waste, and the reporter said to one of the women: “You have a good method for… you’ve got horses down the end of your road, haven’t you?”

    She answered: “Yes, when we buy fresh fruit and veg, when it’s just about to go out of date, we cross over the road, take the children and feed the horses.”

    The reporter laughed and said: “Sounds like a plan!”

    Natalie Munir is part of the campaign group Stop Feeding Our Horses, set up in response to the huge number of incidents of public feeding causing colic, severe injuries and death to horses across the country.

    She told H&H it was “extremely frustrating” to hear the comments, after all the work the group has done on getting the message out that it is unacceptable to feed horses without the owners’ permission, and why.

    “Such a few words could have such a big effect,” she said. “If the reporter had said ‘Oh no, you can’t do that, it’s really dangerous’, that might have been it over but instead he said that, which encourages other people to feed horses, and is really damaging.”

    H&H understands the BBC is not responsible for what guests say on air, but as Natalie pointed out, the reporter’s comment made it clear the subject had previously been raised off air.

    “It’s obviously something she does regularly to get rid of her old fruit and veg, and it encourages every listener to do the same thing,” she said.

    The British Horse Society tweeted the reporter, pointing out that feeding horses in this way can cause serious health problems and death, and he replied: “Yes it’s a v fair point and one taken. Thanks for added info.”

    He has since told H&H, in response to whether he could correct the advice: “Yes, I am going to say something on air on Saturday morning, which is the next time I’m on the radio. I’m obviously very happy to do so.”

    Continues below…

    “I want them to know that this is a really big deal,” Natalie said. “Horses and ponies are suffering and dying, and what they’ve done is tell everyone listening that this is an acceptable thing to do. That not only undermines all our campaign, it makes everything so much worse.

    “I’d love them to speak to some owners who have lost horses through feeding, and maybe then they’d get it.”

    A spokesman for 5 Live told H&H: “These comments were made live on air. We understand the concerns raised and have made our production team aware.”

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