Thank you for contacting me about horse tethering and the ‘#BreakTheChain’ campaign by the equestrian charity, HorseWorld.
I support the highest standards of animal welfare and agree with you about the importance of protecting these gentle, sensitive creatures. The Animal Welfare Act 2006 makes it an offence to cause any unnecessary suffering to animals, or for a responsible party to fail to provide for their welfare.
The statutory Code of Practice for the Welfare of Horses, Ponies, Donkeys and Their Hybrids includes advice on how to tether these animals where necessary in a manner that meets their welfare needs. It outlines that tethering is not suitable for long-term use, but it can be used exceptionally in the short term on suitable animals given an appropriate site and equipment. Any failure to adhere to the Code can be used in court to demonstrate neglect.
I am pleased that last year, following a call from the then-Minister of Animal Welfare, a roundtable meeting was set-up with the relevant welfare groups and authorities to discuss what more can be done in sharing and documenting best practice on horse tethering and more actively distributing this information to horse owners.
Of course, if anyone is concerned about the way a horse is tethered, I would urge them to report it to the local authority, which has powers under the Animal Welfare Act to investigate such matters. The RSPCA and World Horse Welfare can also investigate.
On the broader issue of enforcement, local authorities, the Animal and Plant Health Agency as well as the police all have powers of entry. While it is for local authorities to allocate resourcing based on local need, ministers have been clear that they will continue to engage with key stakeholders to spread best practice and ensure that there is more joined-up working to tackle inappropriate horse tethering.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.
Craig Whittaker MP