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Ragwort: Help Us Get the Facts

22 July 2014


The British Horse Society is today launching a major survey supported by Defra to assess levels of awareness and concern about ragwort, a plant that can cause serious, and sometimes fatal harm, to horses.
Every year, The British Horse Society is inundated with concerns from members about ragwort, which can cause much damage to horses. Many of those responsible for horses’ care invest large amounts of resource, both through labour and expense, in trying to control this weed.  
The British Horse Society have taken these serious concerns on board, and are delighted to announce that they are working with Defra to launch a major new research project to assess current levels of awareness and concern about ragwort and how it affects horses in England.
The survey will gather data across England on the perceptions and reality of the impact of ragwort.  It will inform future measures to ensure the appropriate use of the Weeds Act 1959, the Animal Welfare Act 2006 and other relevant legislation. 
The survey is running between Tuesday 22 July and Friday 15 August 2014, and can be accessed through the Society’s website at
The British Horse Society is encouraging people to take the time to complete this survey, and share it with their friends and family. The more information that is collected, the more effective the campaign against ragwort can be.
The British Horse Society works to provide education on all equestrian matters, including useful guidance and advice on best practice for grazing management to promote horses’ wellbeing.
Lee Hackett, BHS Director of Equine Policy, said: “We know that ragwort is an issue that greatly concerns our members and indeed all responsible horse owners so we are delighted to be working with Defra on this research project. 

“We know that ragwort kills horses every year and there is absolutely no excuse for this – such deaths are completely avoidable. 
“We need everyone who cares about horses to complete our survey so that we can better understand the extent of the problem. 

“The results will also help inform legislation and other measures surrounding ragwort.
“This is a very important project and one which could make a real difference, so we are extremely grateful to Defra for their support of this work. 

“However, it can only work if we can gather enough data so I urge everyone involved in horses to take a few minutes to complete the survey and to encourage others to do the same.”

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