Reality check regarding welfare of livery horses

horse livery welfare
 
Many horse owners are becoming more aware of the needs of their horse, and are choosing to provide enriched environments that improve equine health and welfare. However, a recent survey conducted by World Horse Welfare (WHW) points out that more work needs to be done in regards to owner compliance with even the most basic requirements of owning a horse. 
 
Adequate turnout time is absolutely essential for the stabled horse, which in an ideal situation would live outdoors 24/7. It’s not quite as easy as just finding a spare paddock though - there are minimum requirements that need to be met. Adequate forage, fresh water, shelter from the wind and rain, some pasture pals, and a variety of browsing fodder can all contribute to a comfortable equine environment. 
 
The results of the WHW livery survey are a reality check, in that they show for many horses the turnout time they do have is lacking even the most basic of attributes. Around 20% of respondents reported problems with poisonous plants or dangerous objects in turnout areas, and an alarming 10% reported no access to fresh water.   
 
To add to this, a worrying 6% of respondents reported that physical abuse of the horse had taken place.
 
If this survey is to be taken as representative, then around one in five horse-owning-livery-using readers may be witnessing the same welfare deficits as those mentioned in the survey. If you are one of those readers, what can you do?
 
In the first instance, you may want to tactfully approach the yard owner to discuss your concerns. If you don’t feel comfortable doing this for whatever reason (for example if you don’t want to jeopardise your grazing rights!), then World Horse Welfare are able to assist you by providing education and advice.
 
If you are worried about being identified as a ‘whistleblower’ then please do mention your concerns to World Horse Welfare, who will do their utmost to deal with the situation with sensitivity.   They have a free welfare line: 08000 480 180.
 
 
Tracey Ward BA (Psychology)
APBC Provisional Member