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The British Horse Society
Animal Welfare Groups Join Forces To Improve Livery Yards

The British Horse Society to administer voluntary scheme

Horse vets and leading equine welfare groups have joined forces to ask livery yards throughout the country to join a voluntary approvals and registration scheme designed to improve and standardise conditions for horses and ponies.

It will be administered by The British Horse Society (BHS) and supported by the British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA), the International League for the Protection of Horses (ILPH), the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA), the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SSPCA) and the Home of Rest for Horses. The scheme was launched at the Golden Jubilee Royal International Horse Show on July 26.

The British Horse Society Livery Yard Approval Scheme was devised after veterinary surgeons became concerned about welfare conditions in many of the yards they visited. "The bulk of our concerns were not about outright cruelty but in most cases centred on the way the animals were kept by often inexperienced owners," said BEVA information officer Lesley Barwise-Munro.

"And because the BHS was already running a very successful 'approvals' operation for riding schools, we went to discuss it with them." And she added: "We think this is the first time that all these groups have actively cooperated in a drive to improve equine welfare."

Sponsors are South Essex Insurance Brokers, Intervet and Merial Animal Health.

BHS chief executive Kay Driver said: "Obviously, welfare implications are very important to us, but this scheme will also benefit proprietors and horse owners. It will bring standards up to the level of the best existing yards, and may even help them to find improvements, all of which will create more peace of mind for owners, enable us to publish a list of approved yards and help proprietors to find more business.

"We will also be in a position to help and advise more directly on things like legislation, access, safety, insurance and welfare generally."

While it is not thought the scheme will have any impact on costs, the BHS does point towards its recent success in persuading the government to remove
VAT from livery charges as the type of service it provides.

All the groups involved are also watching closely for government moves towards compulsory licensing of livery yards in the planned modernising of the Protection of Animals Act. DEFRA minister Elliot Morley has commented publicly on the anomaly of establishments boarding dogs and cats needing licenses but that there was nothing similar for livery stables.

"It could be that the Livery Yard Approvals Scheme could provide a great deal of help to government if this were contemplated," said Mrs Driver. "Certainly the inspection demands in the scheme will help anyone planning to open yards, particularly farmers contemplating diversification."

The scheme demands an initial inspection, with annual unannounced visits by full-time inspectors to ensure standards are maintained. It includes as well, a grievance procedure to deal with complaints by owners, with the proprietor kept informed throughout.

A detailed information pack is available to livery yard proprietors considering registration. Fees have been calculated on the number of stables available and there is a section for Do-it-Yourself yards, where owners rent a stable and facilities but care for their horses and ponies themselves.


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