Fly-grazing has always been a hot subject in the horse world and a ‘big issue’ across the UK. In recent years, loose, stray, abandoned and fly-grazing horses have become an acute and expensive problem for landowners, local authorities, enforcement agencies, welfare charities and taxpayers. The lack of care the horses receive, and the actions of their owners, are threatening the livelihoods of farmers and landowners, creating significant horse welfare problems, depriving the public use of public spaces and risking the lives of motorists. Whether the number of horses being fly-grazed has increased, or they have just been moved to more visible locations, or some combination of these, is not clear.
However, things are a foot with EQUINE charities and local councils across the UK teaming up to tackle this big issue. The aim is to help councils use the Control of Horses Act in a bid to combat fly-grazing. What is the Control of Horses Act 2015? On 26th May 2015, The Control of Horses Act came into force in England. This allows both local authorities and private landowners to act more quickly and decisively when horses are fly-grazed on their land (placed onto their land without permission). It also gives them a far wider range of options on what they then do with seized horses. This Act, which updates the Animals Act 1971, makes small changes to the law to close loopholes that were masterfully exploited by unscrupulous horse owners to the detriment of communities, landowners and most crucially of all for us, horse welfare.
What happens in Scotland? There is currently no similar legislation planned for Scotland and Northern Ireland, where the problem of fly-grazing is thought to be less severe at the present time. What do you think? Is that the case, or do you have experience of fly-grazing that has affected you? Should there be a similar legislation across Scotland? At www.scottishhorsehelp.co.uk , where we are experienced equestrians, who care enormously about the welfare of all horses, please contact us should you have any concerns regarding a horse.