UK Boarding Stable Survey Reflects Owners' Concerns

One in four respondents to a recent survey on UK boarding stables reported serious welfare problems, reported World Horse Welfare.

The survey results show serious welfare concerns reported by the public, including 13% who said there had been injuries at their livery yard in the past 12 months, 10% reported no access to fresh water in grazing or turnout areas, 21% recorded problems with poisonous plants, especially ragwort, at least 20% reported physical dangers in grazing or turnout areas, 11% reported inadequate food or water provision in this time period, 10% cited poor hoof management, and 6% reported actual physical abuse.

Of the 622 respondents, 7% said that they were aware that welfare reports had been made to the authorities in the last 12 months.

The online survey was conducted between April 2008 and April 2009. Those involved with livery yards were asked to answer a number of specific questions about the management and welfare of horses.

With 1.2 million privately-owned horses in Britain--more than half of which are not kept on the owner's land--these results are concerning, as they demonstrate a wide range of problems expressed by those who completed the survey. The survey was undertaken to aid the Livery Yard Working Group (which includes veterinary and industry groups including BEVA, NEWC, ABRS, The Equine Insurance Forum, World Horse Welfare, BHS, Redwings, and LACORS) in examining how to resolve the welfare issues that main charities have been dealing with.

"This survey has confirmed the presence of a wide variety of welfare related problems not only in the construction of premises, but as important is the way livery businesses are supervised and run," said Chris House, BVetMed, MRCVS, president of the British Equine Veterinary Association and chair of the Livery Yard Working Party. "Problems are surprisingly widespread; action needs to be taken to address this to ensure that good yards are recognized and encouraged, and the bad ones improved.

"The Working Party is compiling evidence of problems at livery yards in order to confirm the concerns that have been expressed over many years. A proposal will be released in the coming months to address the welfare issues that have been raised," he said.

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