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The British Horse Society

Oxfordshire's Ragwort Patrol

Oxfordshire County Council and The British Horse Society's (BHS) Oxford County Committee have teamed up to patrol the area for Ragwort. Work starts on July 12 and carries through to include the BHS Ragwort Action Week (19 - 25 July) and beyond to ensure that horses and other grazing animals are protected from the plant's deadly toxins.

Hundreds of horses die every year from ingesting Ragwort, which attacks and destroys the liver. As a result, the BHS coordinates a national campaign to create awareness of the dangers of Ragwort. The Society initiated the Ragwort Control Act 2003 and the recently presented Code of Practice on how to control the spread of Ragwort. In an effort to reduce significantly the risks in Oxfordshire the County Council is employing contractors to spot spray the worst affected areas of Ragwort growth with teams of Ragwort 'pullers' for the less densely affected areas found on the verges of major roads.

This work will be complemented by further professionally employed teams of Ragwort 'pullers' on minor roads, funded by the BHS County Committee. BHS County Welfare Representative, Dinah Harris, said, "The teams are funded from our highly successful horse and dog show, which will be held this year on 25 July. They are sent out each day with specific routes marked on a map and that way we can cover the whole county in a three to four week period. We have used this system over a number of years and it is working well, each year there is a little less to do and we know we are making a difference."

Colin Carritt, Oxfordshire county council's Area Engineer, added, "We are pleased to have a proactive Ragwort control policy in the county. By working systematically across the road network contractors can not only be effective but also efficient. The spot spraying is carried out by Camps Highway who have spent many years researching the best methods of Ragwort control. They use a sticking agent with a herbicide to ensure that it is only the targeted plant that is sprayed and that cuts down the quantity of chemicals used, making it as environmentally friendly as possible. Horse riding is an important part of Oxfordshire's economy and we value our partnership with The British Horse Society"

The BHS Horse and Dog Show will be held on Sunday 25 July at Tanners Meadow, Common Leys Farm, Hailey near Witney. Further information is available from Dinah Harris on (tel: 01993 702844)



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