Scottish equestrians are being urged to take part in an important online survey to collect information about the conditions and welfare standards of commercial equine establishments.
Views of horse riders, owners, vets and yard proprietors are needed as part of a response to a pre-consultation exercise by Richard Lochhead (Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment) on the licensing or registration of equine premises in Scotland.
The Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006 introduced the possibility of secondary legislation to monitor and enforce standards of welfare in equine establishments and this pre-consultation could mark the first step along this path.
The questionnaire is being conducted by the Equine Establishments Working Party (EEWP), which brings together many of the country’s largest welfare organisations. The group is chaired by Ben Mayes of the British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA), with other members including The British Horse Society, World Horse Welfare, the National Equine Welfare Council, Redwings, South Essex Insurance Brokers and the Association of British Riding Schools.
Ben Mayes said: “Welfare should be the priority for anyone involved with horses. It seems odd that the kennels your dog stays in for a couple of weeks a year have to undergo rigorous Local Authority inspections and licensing, yet the livery yard where your horse may spend his whole life isn’t subject to even the most cursory of inspections.
“We are asking people to just spend a few minutes filling in our online survey so that we can get more information on commercial yards in Scotland to help us understand if we need to do more to protect the welfare of Scottish horses.”
The survey can be accessed from the BHS Scotland website, www.bhsscotland.org.uk, and will be open until 13 July 2012. Organisers are seeking responses about all types of commercial equine establishments in Scotland including livery yards, dealers’ premises, sanctuaries, studs and competition yards.