Home | Latest News | Updates | Topics | News Archive | Risk Assessment | For Everyone | For Businesses | Strategy | "Waxed Jackets" | Links | Search | About | Contact

Riding Safely

News for January & February 2008

Riding Safely Logo

   The UK's only Equestrian Safety Newsletter

What's been updated?  Find out >>>
Read the previous news digest for September, October, November & December 2007

Riding Safely is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

In this Edition...

   34 horses dead, 111 rescued in UK Police and equine charities rescue operation

   Equine dental technicians and barefoot trimmers’ survey

   Velvet rescued from stream

   Myth of the Month

   Timetable of other events

   Breaking the Strangles Hold - campaign update


   Training Resources

   Sources of Help


Your Right of Reply.....

You can comment about any of the items in this edition of the News digest in the Forum or or by contacting the Editor at editor.ridingsafelyuk@yahoo.co.uk

Your Concerns
What are the health & safety issues that concern you most?  List them in the Forum or by contacting the Editor at editor.ridingsafelyuk@yahoo.co.uk

One of the rescued horses
One of the rescued horses

One of the largest rescue operations on record in the UK took place on Wednesday 9 January 2007 when 111 horses, ponies and donkeys were removed from Spindels Farm near Amersham, Buckinghamshire.  31 horses were found dead and decomposing; three others were put down on the advice of vets.

The operation was coordinated by Thames Valley Police, Trading Standards and the RSPCA with help from the Horse Trust, the International League for the Protection of Horses (ILPH), Redwings and The Blue Cross. The situation has been described as shocking, horrific and beyond comprehension by all involved.

Overgrown hooves - now in the safey of the ILPH
Now in the safe care of the ILPH

Thames Valley Police report that James Gray has been charged with criminal damage and assault on a police officer.  He was due in court on 14 January; however the case has been adjourned.

He is now due to appear at Aylesbury Magistrates' Court on 4 February at 10am.

The case was adjourned following the request by Mr Gray and this was granted by the court. Mr Gray is currently under investigation for offences under the Animal Welfare Act.

A spokesman for Buckinghamshire Trading Standards said an investigation into what was discovered at Spindles Farm would be "very quick".

The 111 equines are recuperating with the help of horse charities across the country.  However this huge number of equines puts enormous pressure on the charities and they are appealing for donations and help.


Based on source material from Horse and Hound. For more on the Amersham horses rescued: latest news on Spindles Farm cruelty case, visit: http://www.horseandhound.co.uk/news/397/173804.html


Overwhelming response from the equestrian community

Operation Esther was launched after a Horse and Hound Online Member (Michelle Mortimer) placed a plea on the site’s forum for people to give up a luxury and donate that money to the charities caring for the horses and ponies rescued.  Within a matter of hours, Michelle’s appeal became a nationwide movement that has gone from strength to strength as the days have passed.  It was named Operation Esther after the youngest donkey rescued.  Esther and her mum Mary were taken to Redwings Horse Sanctuary in Norfolk, where she was given her name.

Operation Esther’s mission is to gather together donations of money, feed, bedding and other essential items so that these may be transported to the charities concerned on Convoy Day, 26th January 2008.

Operation Esther is a voluntary organisation set up to help Redwings Horse Sanctuary, The International League for the Protection of Horses (ILPH) and The Horse Trust.  None of the charities are directly involved with Operation Esther but they have expressed heartfelt thanks and appreciation for the efforts of everyone taking part.

Operation Esther has really taken off, explains Michelle Mortimer: “Everybody involved with Operation Esther and the collection of donations has really taken it to their hearts and we are all very grateful.  It is brilliant to be able to help the charities who took in not only these equines, but take in rescued horses, ponies and donkeys all year round.”

There are now numerous collection points across the UK and details of those can be found on the relevant page of the Operation Esther website.

Find out more about Operation Esther at:  http://www.operationesther.com/

Read the Horse & Hound Forum temporary board dedicated to the Amersham horse rescue and Operation Esther at:  http://www.horseandhound.co.uk/forums/postlist.php/Cat/0/Board/operationesther


Tony Tyler in training

Tony gets his running shoes on for Amersham horses

Spurred on by the shocking, recent horse welfare case in Amersham, International League for the Protection of Horses’ (ILPH) Deputy Chief Executive Tony Tyler is donning his running shoes to take part in the Edinburgh Marathon in aid of the ILPH.

“Having worked at the ILPH for the past 8 years, I have seen some horrendous welfare cases brought into our Centres,” says Tony.

“The most recent one at Spindles Farm, Amersham has shocked all of us. The ILPH took in 11 of these horses and it will cost many thousands of pounds to rehabilitate and care for them over the next year alone. Sadly this is not the isolated incident people might think. We have other multiple cases being investigated and dealt with throughout the year.

“I have decided to run this year's Edinburgh Marathon to raise funds to help ensure the ILPH is able to continue its vital work. I am training hard to get ready for the 26.2 mile course and would welcome any sponsorship, however small!”

The Edinburgh Marathon takes place on Sunday 25th May 2008. Anyone wishing to sponsor Tony can do so securely online at www.justgiving.com/tonytyler

Equine dental technicians and barefoot trimmers’ survey

How many equine dental technicians and barefoot trimmers work in the industry?  The first online survey into the industry now aims to find out.

Lantra Sector Skills Council is carrying out the survey on its website to find out the numbers working as paraprofessionals, their background and the challenges they face.

Lantra Equine and Professions Allied to Veterinary Science Industry Partnership Manager, Lisa Jarvis said:  “We estimate that around 500 dental technicians and barefoot trimmers work in the UK, but it is an emerging area and very little is known about it.”

Training is an essential way to overcome challenges and plan effectively for the future.  As the representative body for the equine industry, Lantra works to ensure that training and qualifications meet the needs of employers and industry.  It also represents the industry at government level to shape funding policy, so that areas where there are skills gaps and a training need are prioritised.

Lisa adds:  “In order for Lantra to work with the para-professionals and Defra to develop frameworks for training and qualifications we urgently need equine dental technicians and barefoot trimmers to take part in this research.”

The survey questions are grouped into eight main themes:

        Current numbers employed in the industry

        Entry route into current job role (i.e. school, college, university)

        Training route used (length of training, type of training, accreditation)

        Predicted numbers entering the industry

        Job roles – tasks, competencies

        Business – number of clients and horses treated

        Membership of organisations

        Links to other professionals (e.g. veterinary surgeons, farriers)

If you are a paraprofessional, or a client or colleague of a paraprofessional, please take the time to log onto the business section of the Lantra website www.lantra.co.uk/businesses/equine/ to take part. 

If you would prefer to receive a copy of the survey by email, please contact Lantra Connect on tel: 0845 707 8007 or email connect@lantra.co.uk. The closing date is 31st March 2008.


Defra consultation information

Details on current and past Defra consultations can be found at http://www.defra.gov.uk/corporate/consult/default.asp


Velvet rescued from stream


A 31-year-old New Forest mare is lucky to be alive after lying trapped in a ditch for a number of hours.

Fire crews from Basingstoke and Eastleigh fire stations were called to reports of a large horse trapped in a deep ditch just before midday on Saturday, January 12.

They arrived at the farm in Goddards Lane, Sherfield-on-Loddon, to find a 13.2 hand, 350 kg, New Forest mare, called Velvet, exhausted and lying in a cold stream.

Rural Safety Officer Anton Phillips was also called to attend.  Watch Manager Phillips said: "It appears that Velvet may have stumbled through a hedge and fell five to six feet into the ditch, which has a stream running through it. It was initially thought that she may have broken her pelvis, but further examination revealed she hadn't."

Fire crews then set about rigging up a harness and using a tele-handler managed to ease the ageing horse out of the water.

Watch Manager Phillips added, "Velvet was beginning to suffer from hypothermia and as soon as she was out we covered her in blankets to keep her warm. Soon she was back on her feet once again. When you consider that in human terms, Velvet is about 80 years old, this was an excellent result."

Watch Manager Anton Phillips is one of three Animal Rescue Advisers who work for Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service.  The specialist team are leading the way in animal rescue work in the UK with other fire and rescue service’s learning from their example.

At present the Hampshire Animal Rescue Team is made up of three advisers, who assist at roughly 300 incidents a year.  But their role is not solely responding to incidents they are also heavily involved in education and the development of new rescue techniques and promoting animal welfare.

Source:  Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service - 13 January 2008

Emergency Services Protocol Flyer

Related information

Emergency Services Protocol

        Guidelines to help the emergency services cope better with equine incidents were launched in May 2007.

        The guidelines aim to ensure that any horse involved in an accident receives proper care as quickly as possible. They cover everything from how a 999 call should be dealt with to advice on identifying horses and coping with a large animal in an incident.

        An Emergency Services Protocol Fund has also been set up by the BHS and BEVA, to help minimise delays for injured horses receiving veterinary care when their owners cannot be traced. The fund will also pay for rescue training and specialist lifting and rescue equipment for the emergency services.

        To donate to the fund, contact BEVA (tel: 01638 723555).

Read more from Horse & Hound Online at http://www.horseandhound.co.uk/news/article.php?aid=119785

Get detailed information on the Emergency Services Protocol from a leaflet that can be downloaded from


Myth of the Month

The HSE’s initiaitive, to promote that the sensible management of risks protects people from real harm and suffering, but avoids bureaucratic back covering, has taken a further step forward.  HSE is running a "Myth of the Month" campaign aimed at highlighting some of the more popular stories of health and safety, which do not actually represent the law.

See the latest myth of the month at http://www.hse.gov.uk/myth/index.htm

A previous myth of the month, pertinent to the horse industry – May’s Myth: Risk assessments must always be long and complex can be found at http://www.hse.gov.uk/myth/may.htm


Timetable of other events




Animals Act 1971 (Amendment) Bill 2007 - 2008

Private Members' Bill (Ballot Bill) introduced by Stephen Crabb MP

2nd Reading in the Commons

Related timetable

14 March 2008

A Bill to amend the Animals Act 1971 to limit strict liability for damage done by animals

FEI Eventing Safety Forum

Copenhagen, Denmark.

19 January 2008

To discuss safety across the sport.

National bodies from all eventing nations, including the British Equestrian Federation (BEF), will be invited to attend and make presentations on safety, along with course-designers, trainers, riders, officials, equipment manufacturers and vets.

British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA)

Details of continuing professional development (CPD) courses and meetings for 2008

Various during 2008


eemail.gif If you know of any forthcoming equestrian health, safety or welfare related events please contact Riding Safely 
phone.gif 07505 159979

Breaking the Strangles Hold - campaign update


International Strangles Event

On May 28th, The Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies will be hosting a meeting of veterinary specialists from all over the world to discuss recent scientific advances in the development of preventative measures for Strangles.

Strangles is the most commonly diagnosed infectious disease of horses worldwide. However, the end may be in sight, as the Animal Health Trust (AHT) has teamed up with the British Horse Society to develop a blood test and vaccine, to test for and prevent respectively, the disease. The campaign has a £250,000 target, and has already managed to raise £100,000.

The conference, to be held in the School at the University of Edinburgh, will comprise of a series of talks from various specialists from all over the world, including four of the research team from the AHT: Andrew Waller, Jeremy Kemp-Symonds, Richard Newton and ZoŽ Mitchell.

Tickets for this conference, which includes lunch and coffee, are £65. Please follow the link below for further information, the day’s programme and booking form to ensure you get your place!


You can also follow the links from the Science section of the AHT website for more information on the disease itself and the work we are doing towards the development of the vaccine.


Related Information

About strangles - When a horse contracts the disease, it initially loses its energy and appetite. Swelling and abscesses occur around the throat. The horse then finds it hard to breathe and swallow – as it is being strangled (hence the name Strangles). When the abscesses rupture, in some cases other horses can be infected. If the abscesses spread to other parts of the horse's body, the condition is usually fatal.  See the strangles information leaflet www.aht.org.uk/strangles.org/strangle_leaflet.pdf and the strangles campaign website www.strangles.org/

The Animal HealthTrust - The AHT is a charity dedicated to improving the health of dogs, cats and horses by addressing the problems of disease and injury. It achieves this by providing specialist clinical services for animals in need and advancing veterinary science. Even if your horse or pet has never been treated directly by the AHT, it will have benefited from the results of the Trust’s work.  See www.aht.org.uk

The British Horse Society - the UK's biggest horse charity with a membership of more than 100,000, held a Strangles Awareness Week from 15-21 May last year (2006), and BHS Scotland has been lobbying hard in the Scottish Parliament for new measures to help to slow the spread of Strangles in Scotland.  See www.bhs.org.uk


Related Reports

Patchetts Equestrian Centre in Hertfordshire reopened on 11 July following a closure of four weeks after a horse in livery at the yard was diagnosed with strangles on 12 June.

Read more from Horse and Hound Online (13 June & 10 July 2007) at:



Stables under threat - A Stables in Garston (Hertfordshire, UK) is struggling to stay afloat after a devastating virus (strangles) ruined its reputation, despite being given the all-clear months ago.

Read more from the Watford Observer - Watford, England, UK (26 January 2007) at:  www.watfordobserver.co.uk:80/news/localnews/display.var.1149466.0.stables_under_threat.php

Strangles survey reveals spread and ignorance of disease

An online survey carried out for Strangles Awareness Week (14 – 20 May) has revealed that strangles is "widespread throughout the UK" but knowledge of the disease and yard policies to help prevent it is "lacking".

Read more about the findings of the survey from Horse & Hound  online (22 August 2007) at http://www.horseandhound.co.uk/news/397/138579.html

Read more about the newly-launched Strategy to Eradicate and Prevent Strangles at                 http://www.equine-strangles.co.uk/documents/BHSSTEPSStrategytoPreventandEradicateStrangles_001.pdf

Need to know if you're doing enough to comply with health, safety and environmental requirements?  Then this section is for you.  The information in this section will be repeated and updated each month.


   What you must do

The Health and Safety Executive list 10 key things you must do if you are in business.  Are you doing them all?  Check them out and get further help from http://www.hse.gov.uk/smallbusinesses/must.htm

   Health and Safety Guidance for Inspections of Horse Riding Establishments and Livery Yards

Published in May 2006, this document sets out current good practice for environmental health practitioners; licensing officers; vets and animal wardens and also provides a useful tool for both owners and managers of horse riding establishments and livery yards.

Supported by the riding industry’s major stakeholders, the guidance aims to fill a gap in existing literature and also provides useful checklists necessary to minimise the risk associated with such premises.

It recognises the need to strike a practical balance to reduce hazards without hindering the sustainability of the riding industry.

Download from:  http://www.cieh.org/library/Knowledge/Health_and_safety/guidancelivery_3.pdf

Training Resources

   Safety with Horses”

Safety with Horses is a cost effective, award winning equine health and safety training programme, leading to an accredited Vocational Qualification.

The Level 2 programme is suitable for all those involved in any equine related activity including full or part-time students, clients, trainees, school work placements as well as those employed working with horses.

Find out more about the Safety with Horses training programme at: http://www.warkscol.ac.uk/equistudy/equistudy/coursepage.asp?courseid=9

Sources of Help

   Workplace Health Connect

Delivered in partnership with the Health and Safety Executive, Workplace Health Connect is a government funded service providing confidential, practical and free advice to small businesses on workplace health and safety, management of sickness absence and return to work issues.

Find out more from http://www.workplacehealthconnect.co.uk/

The Riding Safely website is frequently updated.  The easiest way for you to check out what's been added on a day-to-day basis is to visit the website update section >>>

Subscription Information

Riding Safely is a free subscription newsletter.

If you’d like future editions of the Riding Safely newsletter emailed to you then click on the link below.

Please add me to your free email subscription list

Your e-mail address will only be used for the purpose of letting you know about Riding Safely updates. It will not be used for any other purposes whatsoever or passed onto third parties.

Let Riding Safely know....... 
eemail.gifIf you have any equestrian health, safety or welfare news then please share it with Riding Safely
phone.gif 07505 159979

All Horse & Hound news items that are reproduced in this newsletter are done so with the permission of and are copyright of Horse & Hound/IPC Media

What's been updated?  Find out >>>

Riding Safely is not responsible for the content of external internet sites