05/04/2011 Two Leading Horse Charities Help Welsh Local Authority Inspectors Get to Grips with Feral Ponies

44 local authority inspectors from across Wales have attended training courses on horse welfare assessment to allow them to investigate complaints from the public about alleged cases of cruelty and neglect involving horses and ponies more effectively.

The Trading Standards and Animal Health Inspectors attended courses at the Society for the Welfare of Horses and Ponies in Monmouthshire and at Bransby Homes of Rest for Horses in Herefordshire. Two one-day courses were run at each site.

The first course “Advanced Equine Welfare Assessment” covered identification of, and bio-security measures for, common endemic infectious diseases as well as exotic diseases such as African Horse Sickness. Local authority inspectors may well be the first to come across an animal suffering from an exotic disease and the training reinforced the message that vigilance is key. Using real-life examples the inspectors were also given training on assessing the needs of foals and geriatric horses, fitness to travel (local authorities have a statutory responsibility to enforce The Welfare of Animals (Transport (Wales) Order 2007), and potential welfare implications of untreated winter ailments. The inspectors were also given the opportunity to practice their handling skills with ponies that were difficult to catch or were previously unhandled.

The second course was dedicated to assessing the needs of feral ponies using case studies to outline when local authority and veterinary intervention may be required. The course had a large practical element and inspectors got hands on experience of rounding up and loading semi-feral ponies. They also gained an understanding of the logistical issues associated with transporting and loading feral ponies, and of the problems associated with providing veterinary treatment to animals that aren’t accustomed to being handled.

Liane Crowther, Training Manager at The Horse Trust said, “The opportunity to deliver this high standard of training to the inspectors that work at the “sharp end” of animal welfare is key to improving and enhancing horse welfare assessment.  We are grateful to the Welsh Assembly for providing the funds and to Bransby Home of Rest and SWHP for kindly hosting the training sessions.”

The training built on the foundations laid during the previous year when the inspectors attended an introductory level course.

The training was funded by the Welsh Assembly Government's Companion Animal Welfare Enhancement Scheme (CAWES) and was facilitated by the Welsh Animal Health and Welfare Panel. The courses, which were organised and run by the equine charities The Horse Trust and Redwings Horse Sanctuary, took place on 16 and 17 March at the Society for Welfare of Horse and Ponies in Monmouth, and on 24 and 25 March at the Bransby Home of Rest for Horses in Stoke Prior.

Redwings is a registered charity (no. 1068911). The charity has over 1100 horses, ponies, donkeys and mules in its care in eight centres around the UK. For more information, visit: www.redwings.org.uk

The Society for the Welfare of Horses and Ponies is a registered charity (no. 266247) based in Monmouth. The charity cares for abused or injured horses and ponies, rehabilitating them and re-homing them in a safe, caring environment. For more information, visit: www.swhp.co.uk   Bransby Home of Rest for Horses is a registered charity (no. 1075601) that runs sanctuaries in Bransby and Stoke Prior. The charity looks after over 100 horses at its Stoke Prior sanctuary and also helps Welsh Mountain ponies, supplying hay during the winter months and providing safe refuge to any animals that require specialist care. For more information, visit www.bransbyhorses.co.uk.

1 The National Equine Welfare Protocol was drawn up in response to the Spindles Farm rescue in 2008. The Protocol, which was developed by various organisations including local and national government, the Police and charities, sets out guidelines for how cases of equine neglect and abuse should be reported and handled, and what organisations can do to reduce the incidence of equine welfare problems. The Protocol has now been merged with the Equine Health and Welfare Strategy for the UK, which is a living document.