As every owner knows, there’s so much fun to be had with your horse. When things are going well, there’s the beautiful hacks late in the afternoon, the excitement of galloping across a deserted beach or even competing in an event. However, when things are not going so well, the responsibilities can start to become a little overwhelming. Caring for a large animal with very specific needs, the 6am midwinter muck-outs, the equipment required, the feed, the exercising etc, it can all start to out weigh the rewards! If the horse itself starts playing up, becomes unrideable or seriously ill, these responsibilities can become unbearable and this is when real problems start.
Not a month goes past without a story being published around Invisible Horses or a Rescue Home sharing its newest addition’s story. Horse neglect, abandonment and cruelty seem to come back down to the fact that the legislation around owing a horse is often unenforceable and the paperwork unchecked when importing and exporting horses. To an unscrupulous owner, the horse can remain invisible regardless of the law.
The Control of Horses Act 2015 was introduced to strengthen the protection of horses, helping link them to their owners and help with the real problems of fly grazing and horse abandonment. But the situation doesn’t seem to have changed. Of the 3000 horses reported as fly grazing in 2015, 70% of their owners remain unidentifiable.
In some cases it is may be due to a lack of finance, but in many others it is comes down to a problem horse. Yet a problem horse is not usually made that way. Often is is created by the way it was handled or through undiagnosed illness or injury. Professional assessment coupled with a lot of care and attention has been known to help many a problem horse. Its dilemma is that it finds itself moved from one owner to the next on a regular basis until someone can give it the assessment or care required.
We know from experience how often good, solid intervention and management help when offered at the right time. Having worked with ponies and horses from all walks of life, we know our system of horse management, if implemented as early as possible can often put a stop to many stories of neglect and abandonment?
Since 2005 it has been a legal requirement to ensure your horse is registered and has a passport. In January this year, the European Union updated legislative measures via the Commission Regulation EC 262/2015 Act after recognising that there was a huge level of fraud in horse documentation, that fly grazing was becoming unmanageable, that horses unfit for human consumption were entering the food chain and that there was no centralised database or import/export database checks of note.
The legislation will not deter owners with no desire to manage their horse’s welfare, but adding a horse passport to our Equibuddy app became a primary concern for us. As more owners register their horses and movement between owners is traced, the App may play a small but growing role in being able to counter some of the issues discussed above.
It would be interesting to hear your concerns over the phenomenon of the Invisible Horse and how it can be tackled going forward. As we develop our App’s functionality, we need to ensure it meets the needs of every horse and that it gives it an identity that cannot be faked. We look forward to hearing from you.