Owners ‘must be held to account’ for horse deaths across St Albans district

Horses which are being kept on land next to the A414

Horses which are being kept on land next to the A414 - Credit: Archant

Animal lovers have expressed their distress and frustration at seeing horses suffer after being let loose from local fields to escape onto a busy arterial road or left to die in the open.

The ongoing battle to prevent more horses dying needlessly is being played out in Colney Heath where abandoned and stray horses - mainly owned by travellers - are presenting risks to motorists and raising concerns about animal welfare.

Several locals have contacted the Herts Advertiser in tears after seeing a dead horse on the 52-hectare former Smallford pit between Colney Heath and Smallford Lanes, along the A414 corridor.

Herts Police recorded five horses loose on the highway in Barley Mow Lane in early January.

Herts county councillor for The Colneys Dreda Gordon said she had recently spoken with an upset couple who had tried to save a distressed pregnant mare after she was abandoned.

The horse miscarried and despite their efforts had to be put down, as she could not stand.

The couple have urged the RSPCA to do more to prevent such deaths.

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Cllr Gordon said: “This is an animal welfare issue. I don’t understand how it can happen. I’ve raised it with Herts county council because the dead horse was on their land. People have buried that horse on open land.”

Lynn Myland, who lives in Colney Heath and is chairman of the Herts Committee of the British Horse Society said the corpse had been “visible from the A414 longabout”.

She described it as a “really desperate situation that needs urgent action. It is causing so much suffering and people are so very upset.”

Herts Police and Crime Commissioner David Lloyd said: “It is saddening to hear that some horses we suspect are being illegally fly-grazed have died.

“I urge the horse owners and owners of the land to ensure the animals are contained with suitable fencing.”

Chief Inspector Ken Townsend, St Albans, added that Oaklands College has “kindly provided at no cost” horse handling training to officers.

But he warned: “It must be remembered police resources are finite and we cannot always respond immediately to deal with horse welfare issues - road safety and other crime issues must take priority.”

A spokeswoman for the RSPCA urged the Government to introduce legislation to help fight the problem as “irresponsible owners are currently not held to account”.