As part of the #BeHorseAware campaign, The British Horse Society (BHS) and the University of Bristol have today launched a new video, warning members of the public to not feed any horses they may encounter while out and about. Reflecting on research conducted by the University of Bristol, which found that nearly a third of horses became unwell after being fed without the owner’s permission, this campaign aims to raise public awareness of the suffering that horses and owners can go through as a result of feeding without permission.
Featuring owners whose horses have been seriously injured, made extremely ill or in some cases having died due to the public offering feed without the owner’s consent, the #BeHorseAware video highlights the devastating impact this action can cause.
Gemma Stanford, Director of Welfare at The British Horse Society, said: “This short film, which has been released today on #WelfareWednesday, takes you through the devastating real-life emotion and heartache that has been a reality for many horse owners. Although we believe many people are simply unaware of the risks that certain foods pose, we encourage members of the public not to feed horses without the owner’s permission. If members of the public feel that a horse is being mistreated or underfed, we would ask them to contact the BHS Horse Care and Welfare helpline for advice.”
Dr Jo Hockenhull, Senior Research Associate at the University of Bristol Vet School, comments: “We are pleased to be working with the BHS on their #BeHorseAware campaign to help raise awareness of the harm that can be caused by feeding horses without permission. Our findings indicated this is a widespread problem that can have serious consequences for the horses involved. Whilst people are generally not acting maliciously; they are often unaware of the individual animal’s circumstances and the potential consequences of their actions. We urge people not to feed horses they meet; it is simply not worth the risk.”
The BHS is offering the following advice to the public.
Although feeding horses may seem harmless, it is important to remember that:
- Any type of food, grass cuttings or any other plants can cause horses to become extremely unwell or even kill them
- Fighting between horses could break out and cause an injury
- Horses may mistake your fingers for food and accidentally nip them
If you cross land with a right of way where horses are kept, also ensure you:
- Leave gates and property as you find them
- Keep to the right of way
- Take your litter home
- Keep your dog on a lead, and bag and bin your dog’s mess
- If you see a horse in distress, alert the nearest farm/yard or check for a sign with the owner’s details on.
The BHS has produced signs for horse owners to place around their fields asking the public not to feed their horses. These are available for download at bhs.org.uk/behorseaware.
Contact information for the BHS Horse Care and Welfare helpline can be found at bhs.org.uk/our-work/welfare/report-a-welfare-concern