Control of Horses Bill set to become law

The RSPCA have announced that the Control of Horses Bill will become law before the General Election.

Every year, the charity receives more than 22,000 calls every year about horse welfare, so along with other welfare charities and countryside and farming organisations, they are delighted to welcome the passing of the Bill by the House of Lords which took place on the 18th March.

Two horses looking over a fence © RSPCA

The end of fly-grazing
The new law will deter and help to swiftly resolve cases of ‘fly-grazing’ – the practice of placing horses on private and public land without permission. It will bring England into line with Wales, which introduced a similar law in early 2014 and may have led to the practice growing in England. Charities estimate that the number of horses fly-grazed to be more than 3,000, causing misery for horses, communities and taxpayers.
RSPCA currently have more than 600 horses in our care and receive more than 600 calls each week about abandoned, neglected or mistreated horses, ponies and donkeys.  Many of these are grazed illegally on other peoples’ land.

This problem has worsened in recent years with factors such as the economic climate, falling prices of horses at market and irresponsible ownership all contributing to horses being left to breed indiscriminately and without enough food or the right sort of care.

Responsibility back with the owner
The new legislation will make it easier for landowners and authorities to deal with illegally grazing horses. It should also put the responsibility back onto owners to comply with other legislation such as compulsory microchipping as any horse that is being fly grazed will only be returned if it has been it microchipped.
RSPCA assistant director of public affairs David Bowles said:

We’re delighted that Julian Sturdy MP’s Private Members Bill has successfully been passed and will become law before the election.  This law will make a big difference to horse welfare as landowners can more quickly deal with fly-grazing animals, instead of them having to leave them on unsuitable land without grazing, shelter or additional food, which is all too often the case.

We know the Welsh legislation has made an enormous difference in its first year and we know this law could reduce the suffering of many horses and make owners face up to their responsibilities.

RSPCA’s #HomesforHorses campaign launches on 27 March. Could you adopt or foster one of the 640 horses, ponies or donkeys in their care?

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