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The horse industry is worth over £4 billion annually, with more than 4.3 million people participating in equine activities and 1.35 million horses in Great Britain.
The industry has become heavily regulated as a result of the outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in 2001, the spread of equine ‘flu and attempts to control the food chain: far-reaching legislation has derived from both the U.K and Europe. Did you know for example that the owner or keeper of a horse must have its passport at 3 hours’ availability at all times?
We can advise on the steps you need to take when you acquire or own a horse, on custody of a horse (for example, is it on loan or on trial, when it should be vetted, liability for expenses and other terms which should be committed to writing) and on the terms of purchase at auction (including soundness and the rights of examination).
These things will sometimes interact with the Rules of Racing and may lead to appearances before the B.H.A. (“the Jockey Club”) or The Irish Turf Club.
Keeping horses also involves compliance with, inter alia, the planning regulations – again, something we have experience of.
Regulations made by Defra (e.g. Reg EC 1/2005) and the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency govern the transport of horses, the staff that must accompany them and the circumstances in which the transporter may require an Operator’s Licence: those circumstances arise bizarrely frequently – possibly even when you take a pony to a gymkhana. We have acted for livestock, horse and racehorse transporters.
We can also advise on the liability for damage caused by an escaping or unruly horse.
It is probably no exaggeration to say that few things have the scope for generating a dispute like a horse: we are here to help.