Recent survey reinforces message to ‘Stop Feeding Our Horses’

Renowned equine scientist Dr David Marlin puts his support behind the national Stop Feeding Our Horses campaign

Stop Feeding Our Horses is a campaign set up by Hannah Johnstone and promoted by ex-groom Natalie Munir following a large number of horses becoming ill, injured or even dying having been fed by the public. It aims to educate non-horsey countryside users to help keep horses safe from harm.

Dr David Marlin ran a survey regarding the public feeding horses and received a whopping 2,745 responses, which clearly demonstrates how strongly owners feel about the issue. The poll covered feeding, as well as interactions, such as entering fields, chasing horses, leaving gates open and damaging fencing.

The poll revealed some concerning statistics…

  • 79% of owners have experienced members of the public interfering with their horses on private property
  • 59% stated this has worsened over the last year, although 15% reported that they’ve not experienced any interference at all
  • 44% said their horses had suffered as a result of the public’s actions and in 90 of these cases the suffering was significant – resulting in euthanasia or death
  • 72% of owners who’d experienced trespassing didn’t report this to the police. Of 294 reports, 20% said the police were helpful and another 20% stating that the police took action. However, this leaves 60% of owners receiving no help from the police

Dr David Marlin said of the survey results: “The current pandemic has seen a marked increase in the number of people walking in the countryside, which should be viewed as a positive but, sadly, due to the unacceptable actions of a minority, the UK’s horses, ponies and donkeys are now being exposed to an unacceptable level of risk.

“There’s clearly an immediate need to educate members of the public to understand the potentially grave consequences of their actions. We’d hope that in most scenarios, this is a case of ignorance rather than intent but, regardless, we need to put an end to this behaviour.

“As per the current enhanced concerted efforts by the police to raise awareness of the appropriate protocol for drivers when they see a horse being ridden (or led) on a public highway, we’d welcome a similar proactive response regarding this type of interference, and this would of course include support for the Stop Feeding our Horses campaign. We’d also urge other key stakeholders to join forces to effect change in relation to these matters.”

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