Stephen Metcalfe, Member of Parliament for South Basildon and East Thurrock, visited The Essex Horse and Pony Sanctuary recently to learn about the campaign to stamp out the cruel practice of long-term tethering inflicted on tens of thousands of horses across the UK.
Tethering is where a horse is tied to a rope and can only circle a small section of land. The Sanctuary Manager Sue Allery, explained that this practice, while considered acceptable for short periods, is ill-advised for long periods.
The practice was most widespread when horses used to be working animals and were tethered overnight following a hard day’s work. This was fine as they got plenty of exercise and movement during the day. Now that they are predominantly keep in one place and don’t work, horses can be left tethered for extended periods of time. The main problems associated with this practice are:
· It has been known for horses to out-grow their restraints with them becoming lodged within the animal.
· It prevents mothers from looking after their newly born fouls.
· The horses can get harassed by dogs, or children unaware of their plight.
· Lack of exercise
· Inadequate access to food and water
· Unnatural existence as they are grazing and horde animals
Speaking after the visit, Stephen said “While we are all aware that the mistreatment of animals does happen, I was unaware of the extent to which horses were exposed to such cruel conditions. Owners have a duty of care for their animals and are also required to get an annual Horse Passport, where a vet checks that the animal is well treated and in good condition, if they fail to provide one, then they face up to 2 years in prison and a £10,000 fine. Yet it seems this is not enforced, I will be writing to Essex Trading Standards to find out why. I will also speak to my colleagues at Parliament to see if any further legislation is required to address this grave-issue”