Categories: HAPPA Facts, Latest News400 words1.5 min read

Fly Grazing Clamp Down


January 28, 2016



The Control of Horses Act 2015 came into force on 26th May 2015 making the much needed alterations to replace existing legislation within the Animals Act 1971. The new Act is now ‘Fit for Purpose’ allowing local authorities and private landowners the ability to remove horses that have been abandoned and are being fly-grazed unlawfully from their land quickly and effectively.
Under the previous Animals Act 1971 an abandoned horse could only be disposed of after 14 days through sale at market or public auction. Fly-grazing is a major cause of equine welfare issues and Animal Welfare Charities estimate that there are over 3,000 horses illegally fly-grazing within the UK.
Dishonest owners exploited the Animals Act 1971 and by-laws finding many loopholes within the legislation to evade accountability or traceability.  The new Act translates that abandoned horses must be reported to the police within the first 24 hours and owners now have four days (96 hours) to come forward and claim their equine proving ownership. The 96-hour period excludes non-working days.
Effectively owners will be discouraged from abandoning an equine and are more likely to think twice before deserting an animal leaving it to fend for itself and effectively unlawfully taking advantage of free-grazing.
Landowners can now act for a swift resolution when they fall victim of fly-grazing and deal with the situation legally and quickly; having a wider range of options in what to do under the circumstances.  Once a landowner becomes the legal owners of an abandoned equine they are able to either
Re-home privately or by sale at auction or by other means. As a last resort a landowner has the authority under the Act to consider having the horse humanely destroyed.  Fly –grazing equines often have a range of health problems and in some cases it may be absolutely necessary to in order to prevent further suffering. DEFRA has now produced clear guidelines for Private Landowners who fall victim of Fly-Grazing. A copy can be downloaded from
The Control of Horses Act 2015 will not explicitly end the tethering of horses which remains lawful in the UK; however if an equine is tethered on land without the landowners permission  this will come under The Control of Horses Act 2015 in order to remove an equine. The Animal Welfare Act 2006 will relate in cases of tethering whereby the equines welfare is in danger of being compromised.