Looking after horses

A horse is considered to be an agricultural animal if it is used to farm agricultural land or is farmed for meat or hides.

Horses on farms or in stables and livery yards are protected by the Animal Welfare Act. If you own or are responsible for a horse, you have a duty to look after its basic welfare by:

  • providing it with a suitable place to live
  • giving it a suitable diet
  • protecting it from pain, injury, suffering and disease
  • making sure it can behave normally and naturally

You can get an unlimited fine or be sent to prison for up to 6 months if you are cruel to an animal or do not care for it properly. You may also be banned from owning animals in future.

The standards for looking after horses on farms or in livery yards are set out in the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) ‘Code of Practice for the Welfare of Horses, Ponies, Donkeys and their Hybrids’.

Failing to follow the Code of Practice could be used against you if you are prosecuted under the Animal Welfare Act.