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Ragwort - Get the Facts, Get the Help

Pony grazing in field with ragwortDoes ragwort matter to you?

Every year, we’re inundated with ragwort concerns from equestrians, many of whom invest large amounts of time and money in trying to control the weed.

Therefore, we’re delighted to announce that the BHS has been able to run an exciting new project, in association with Defra, to discover the real facts about ragwort and gather data from across England on perceptions and reality.  

Nearly 14,000 people completed our survey, and we're grateful to everyone who took the time to contribute to this vital work. The results will inform measures, such as a toolkit and local action partnerships, to ensure the appropriate use of the Weeds Act 1959, the Animal Welfare Act 2006 and other relevant legislation.

The main findings of this research were:

  • 20% of the respondents knew personally of instances where horses had been suspected or confirmed as having been harmed by ragwort poisoning.
  • 93% said that they take preventative measures to reduce the risk of ragwort on the land that they own, rent or manage.
  • 55% of respondents had taken no action when they had seen ragwort growing on land that they did not themselves own – the main reasons being that they did not know who to contact and they did not think they would be listened to.
  • 75% of respondents have not sought advice about ragwort from organisations.
  • 84% of respondents reported having seen ragwort on land that is used by horses in the seven days prior to them completing the survey.
  • 97%-99% of respondents believed that more activity is needed with joint public / sector policy responses, including improving knowledge, the enforcement of ragwort control regulations and improving local councils’ monitoring of ragwort.

At a summit held with Defra and other key stakeholders in November 2014, these findings were discussed in depth and proposals made for action to increase awareness of ragwort and its effects, and improve communication between individuals and bodies impacted by its growth near livestock.

Read more about the outcomes of the summit and check out our ragwort toolkits for England, Scotland and Wales.


As ever, we take ragwort in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland very seriously. However, in line with Defra's requirements, our research in 2014 focused on England only. We hope that this project will help make a difference in the other regions, too, and we will continue to look for opportunities to take action throughout the UK - such as the dedicated toolkits we've created for England, Scotland and Wales. We hope to launch a toolkit for Northern Ireland later this year.

As the UK’s largest equestrian charity, we couldn’t carry out work like this without our members’ support. To find out what membership could offer you in return from as little as £35 per year, check out the packages available.

Why is this needed?

Watch international showjumper Tim Stockdale and industry experts explain why this work is so important.

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