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03/10/10- UK: Equine charity the Horse Trust's hay bill nears 25,000

Equine charities are the latest to face massive feed bills due to poor crops of hay

Source: Horse & Hound      


27/08/09 - Buckinghamshire - UK: Riders benefit from new safety initiatives


Riders in Buckinghamshire are set to benefit from two new safety initiatives. 

Rural safety Pack



At the County Show, Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service, supported by local organisations and a charity gave away over 500 Rural Safety Packs providing hints and tips on how to make agricultural, equine and farm-related property and buildings safe and secure.

Each pack includes leaflets and information from Thames Valley Horsewatch, Neighbourhood Watch, the RSPCA, Bucks Economic & Learning Partnership (BELP) and Buckinghamshire Rural Affairs Group (BRAG), as well as fire safety advice, including a 12 point checklist for farms and equestrian premises:





        Nameplate -- is your house/farm sign displayed at the entrance?

        Fire hydrant - which is your nearest Fire hydrant?

        Water supplies -- location of available additional water supplies for example tanks, ponds, rivers?

        Evacuation plan -- is a written animal evacuation plan available at all times?

        Dangerous animals -- stables/stalls/fields identifiable if you are not there?

        Flammable risks -- what materials do you have on site and a suitably stored away from fire risks?

        Chemicals -- what chemicals are stored, how many and where?  Are they marked with the relevant safety instructions?

        Fuel/diesel -- supplies/tanks/pipes clearly marked?

        Staff – Are your staff aware of emergency procedures and contact numbers?

        Housekeeping -- are your electrics, workshops and yard is maintained and kept tidy?

        Public -- are you hosting the general public on your property?  How many are likely to be present?

Agricultural buildings -- how many buildings do you have on your side?  What size are they and what is their current use (animal, crops, hay, chemicals, machinery)?

Bucks County Show
click to enlarge

Community safety partnership manager Jo Oliver from Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service said: “We and our partner organisations don’t tend to think of the members of our farming, equine or agricultural communities as being vulnerable, but they are definitely a group that we find hard to reach and don’t often come into contact with other than at barn, farm or field fires.

“There is lots of information out there, but nothing is in one easy location for them to find. This pack is the first part of a plan to help people from our rural communities gain access to information that can help them and is specific to their needs, in a format that is easy for them to use.”


In the second initiative, Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service has begun a joint initiative with local horse welfare charity, The Horse Trust, and Thames Valley Horsewatch, to help ensure that firefighters are better prepared if called to help a large animal in difficulty.

Firefighters are sometimes called out by concerned owners and members of the public to help rescue animals that have got into difficult situations, and national guidelines are currently being set up to ensure best practice procedures are used nationally.

The joint initiative was developed to ensure that firefighters have the skills, training and equipment they need to maximise their own safety and minimise the risk of further injury to the animals they are called to help.

Area Manager Denis O’Driscoll, who heads up Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service’s Operational Response Department, said: "Although we do not receive a large number of these types of calls, we know that there will be occasions where we will need to undertake this kind of activity. As a result, we need to ensure that we are adequately prepared and equipped to deal with these incidents and we are grateful to The Horse Trust for the support and assistance that they are providing. This is a good example of an increasing number of joint initiatives and collaborations that Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service is engaged in that will provide real benefits to our local communities."

Among the large animals Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service is asked to assist are horses, usually those who have got themselves stuck in ditches, stables or cattle grids, but also to horses trapped in overturned trailers on roads or motorway.

It is also possible that firefighters could be called to a fire at an equestrian yard or stables. When trapped in unusual conditions, any animal is likely to become frightened, which can make a situation more dangerous both for the animal and firefighters.

The Horse Trust has provided horse-handling training to members of operational staff from Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service. During evening sessions at The Horse Trust’s stables in Speen, firefighters from Great Missenden and Winslow were taught about animal behaviour and awareness, as well as how to approach and catch horses safely.

Paul Jepson, Chief Executive of The Horse Trust, said: “With over 100 horses, ponies and donkeys here at the sanctuary, we are very aware of the real risk of fire and regularly have drills to remind our staff of the process of evacuating the stables at speed with safety foremost in the minds of our staff and horses.  Over the years, a number of our geriatric horses have got themselves stuck under fences and become distressed as they have been unable to stand up, so we understand the importance of horse handling knowledge when dealing with these situations.”

The Horse Trust has also given Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service a grant of 11,636 to enable them to buy the specialist equipment needed for the rescues.  

The specialist animal rescue teams will be formally launched later in the year.

Further Information:

Buckinghamshire Fire and Rescue: www.bucksfire.gov.uk

The Horse Trust (www.horsetrust.org.uk) is the oldest horse charity in the world, originally established back in 1886 to help the working horses in London. Its expanding welfare department has a number of initiatives underway which will provide tangible welfare benefits to horses in our area and their owners, as well as emergency service and partner organisation personnel. These include provision of specialist horse training which will prepare and equip emergency responders to deal safely with horse encounters and increase safety for all present at the scene. 

Thames Valley Horsewatch (www.thamesvalleyhorsewatch.org.uk) is a Thames Valley Police initiative to combat equine crime and aims to raise awareness of equine crime and improve communication and security among horse owners and riders.


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