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Abandoned Horses at Rugby Club

We have reported before on the increasing number of owners dumping their horses. The cost of keeping horses means that many people run into difficulties. Then simply offload their animals wherever they can. Horses can be inexpensive to buy, and this means that many people purchase horses on a whim. They may not realise the potential impact on their time and finances.

When people dump horses the poor animals can have a terrible time. Their presence may cause serious problems for those who own or manage the land they occupy. Recently five horses have mysteriously appeared at St Mary’s Old Boys RFC in Winterbourne, Gloucestershire.

When Nobody Wants to Help

The horses appeared overnight and the Rugby Club is struggling to find anyone to help them rehome them. The barmaid at the club made 26 phone calls over 48 hours in an attempt to get help, all to no avail. She has said that the Police have informed her that they had received reports of horses on the loose in the area. The gates to the club were open and so the horses may have just wandered in or the former owners may have driven them in.

The rugby club is not a great place for the horses to stay as they could escape onto the adjacent road. In addition, they are grazing on the pitch which, in common with most amenity grassland, the club treated with chemical fertilisers and weed killers.

The barmaid has called the emergency services and 10 different animal charities but nobody could help her because the horses are on private property. She has also knocked on the doors of caravans at a traveller’s site that is nearby, but the travellers have denied knowing anything about the horses. The club now fears that there would have to be a serious accident on the road involving the horses before anyone offers to help them.

Meanwhile games and functions have been taking place and the horses have been mingling with cars in the car park.

The Control of Horses Act 2015

Under the terms of the act (), landowners have the power to detain horses who are on their land without lawful authority. They should call a horse bailiff who will report that the detained horses to the Police. The owners of the animals have 96 hours to claim them (not including weekends) and must pay the costs of the horses’ detention. If they do not pay, the person detaining the horses may sell them, donate them to a charity or dispose of them by humane destruction.

The act only puts welfare provision on to the landowner in so much that the person detaining a horse is liable for any damage caused to it by a failure to treat it with reasonable care and supply it with adequate food and water while it is so detained. If the owners do not claim the horses, the landowner can request that the bailiffs remove them. Unfortunately, this will mean that landowners must bear the costs of removal.

It looks like the rugby club are in for a big bill.


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