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Two leading horse charities help Welsh local authority inspectors get to grips with feral ponies

44 local authority inspectors from across Wales have attended training courses on horse welfare assessment to allow them to investigate complaints from the public about alleged cases of cruelty and neglect involving horses and ponies more effectively.

The Trading Standards and Animal Health Inspectors attended courses at the Society for the Welfare of Horses and Ponies in Monmouthshire and at Bransby Homes of Rest for Horses in Herefordshire. Two one-day courses were run at each site.

The first course “Advanced Equine Welfare Assessment” covered identification of, and bio-security measures for, common endemic infectious diseases as well as exotic diseases such as African Horse Sickness. Local authority inspectors may well be the first to come across an animal suffering from an exotic disease and the training reinforced the message that vigilance is key. Using real-life examples the inspectors were also given training on assessing the needs of foals and geriatric horses, fitness to travel (local authorities have a statutory responsibility to enforce The Welfare of Animals (Transport (Wales) Order 2007), and potential welfare implications of untreated winter ailments. The inspectors were also given the opportunity to practice their handling skills with ponies that were difficult to catch or were previously unhandled.

The second course was dedicated to assessing the needs of feral ponies using case studies to outline when local authority and veterinary intervention may be required. The course had a large practical element and inspectors got hands on experience of rounding up and loading semi-feral ponies. They also gained an understanding of the logistical issues associated with transporting and loading feral ponies, and of the problems associated with providing veterinary treatment to animals that aren’t accustomed to being handled.

Liane Crowther, Training Manager at The Horse Trust said, “The opportunity to deliver this high standard of training to the inspectors that work at the “sharp end” of animal welfare is key to improving and enhancing horse welfare assessment.  We are grateful to the Welsh Assembly for providing the funds and to Bransby Home of Rest and SWHP for kindly hosting the training sessions.”

The training built on the foundations laid during the previous year when the inspectors attended an introductory level course.

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