Statement from the Council on tethered horses

Wednesday, 12 April, 2017

Harlow Council is aware of the growing concerns of local residents about tethered horses. A number of residents are helping to monitor horses and report welfare issues to the Council.  

The Council works closely with the animal welfare charities RSPCA and Redwings who are the experts. Working with the charities the Council holds two horse welfare days every year on Harlow and Latton Commons where horses are microchipped, health checked, hooves cleaned and welfare information given to owners.

The Council’s rangers pass locations on a daily basis and check on any horses that they think are in distress or injured. If reports about the welfare of a tethered horse are received the Council does act on them and they will be reported to the RSPCA and Redwings.  If there is an issue around neglect that is a matter for the RSPCA and the Council will assist where it can. The horse will also be scanned and the owner contacted as the welfare of the horse is ultimately the responsibility of the animal’s owner. Unfortunately there are some horses which just appear on land and the Council doesn’t always know who owns them. Although the highway verges and roundabouts in Harlow are the responsibility of Essex County Council, and tethered horses on their land is a matter for them to address, where Harlow Council gets reports of welfare issues we will follow the same process.

Tethering of horses is not illegal in this country. The Council’s current policy is that it is forbidden on any public land owned by Harlow Council. However, the Council will only take action and seize a horse where there is a welfare issue or when it does not know who the owners are. This is because for every horse the Council seizes it costs between £600 to £800. The Council ensures owners move horses regularly and that water is provided. Also due to commoners rights the Council can’t stop people tethering horses on both Harlow and Latton commons. These rights mean that residents who live in the surrounding area of common land are allowed to graze their horses on common land without permission and the Council cannot infringe this right.

The Council does provide a number of enclosed rented paddocks around the town and it is looking into the possibility of providing more sites to encourage owners to not tether horses on grass verges or roundabouts.

The Council is arranging a meeting with Essex County Council, Essex Police, the RSPCA and Redwings to discuss the whole issue.

The dead horse found last week was not pregnant. Unfortunately she died of natural causes and the bloating was as a result of her death. It is distressing to see a dead animal in a public place and we contacted the owner who collected the horse and both the RSPCA and Red Wings were informed. There are no circumstances which warrant an investigation.