Studies in recent years, which were run by the World Horse Welfare charity, revealed what most of us out here in the wide world, have known for a very long time. Livery Yards are very often, the ideal breeding ground for many a welfare problem.Those of us who work in Administration a professional capacity in the equestrian industry have been concerned about this for many years and specifically in relation to welfare cases at DIY yards.
The World Horse Welfare ran a survey for 12 months from April 2008 to April 2009. In our opinion this did not and still does not receive enough coverage. The result of the survey highlighted issues relating to equine welfare.
Many different issues were reported by the public – a few of which we list below:
- Lack of fresh water in grazing and turnout areas.
- Ragwort was a particular problem but other poisonous plants were also reported.
- Injuries at yards, were, I understand, quite high on the list.
- Dangers in grazing or turnout areas.
- Physical abuse.
- Poor foot management.
The point of the survey was to establish whether there were any worrying trends and issues which may compromise any horse’s welfare. Clearly this survey did just as we all might have expected, i.e. showed that there are indeed many welfare issues at Livery Yards all over the country.
President of BEVA (The British Equine Veterinary Association) Chris House, chaired The Livery Yard Working Party. Chris House commented some considerable time ago:This survey has confirmed the presence of a wide variety of welfare-related problems, not only in the construction of premises, but just as important is the way livery businesses are supervised and run. “”Problems are surprisingly widespread. Action needs to be taken to address this to ensure that good yards are recognised and encouraged, and the bad ones improved. The working party is compiling evidence of problems at livery yards in order to confirm the concerns that have been expressed over many years. A proposal will be released in the coming months to address the welfare issues that have been raised.”
Personally, I wonder why on earth all this has taken so long to come to the surface. The fact that the government postponed the second part of the Welfare act (which was to include licensing of Livery Yards) should have meant that further consultation would ideally have been completed on this issue by now.I have been given to understand, that several equine groups stated their concerns over the initial licensing regulations. This was owing to the fact that they considered the ‘Bill’ to be too weak to prevent further problems on the welfare front. This should, one would have thought, have meant further consultation by the various groups.
I suspect however, that as usual, the powers that be, took a back seat and did nothing to establish the introduction of new and more concrete regulations.
We have also been told that although the British Horse Society Livery Yard Approvals scheme has been up and running for some time, the criteria on which the Approval system is based, covers facilities alone. This would appear to mean that you still cannot guarantee a livery yard will be properly run and sufficiently well supervised.
If some sort of Livery Yard Approvals system were to be introduced which proved to be more robust than the existing British Horse Society system, this would enable it to cover individual welfare cases and issues.
Such a system might then help to get this issue finally sorted. However, at this stage nothing more seems to be happening with the furtherance of this 2nd part of the Welfare Act. It is a disgrace that this should be allowed to slide quietly off the government’s agend