DORSET County Council was helped to tackle the problem of fly-grazing after a number of animal charities joined forces to deal with the issue.

Staff from nine councils, both urban and rural, attended the training day at RSPCA Lockwood Centre for Horses, Ponies, and Donkeys.

It aimed to encourage more local authorities to be better equipped to combat fly-grazing, which involves irresponsible owners grazing their horses on other people’s land without permission.

It can often lead to welfare problems such as horses escaping onto busy roads.

The RSPCA, Redwings Horse Sanctuary, and World Horse Welfare have been working closely together for several years to improve horse welfare in response to the crisis.

Rachel Williams, senior parliamentary advisor for the RSPCA, said: “When we asked local councils if they would value training on the Control of Horses Act, the response was a very clear ‘yes’.

"Fly-grazing of horses is a big issue, and can lead to welfare problems. Often the land used for fly-grazing is unsuitable for horses, the grazing isn't very good, it's near busy roads and the fencing isn't suitable so it puts animals at risks.

"Thankfully the Control of Horses Act allows councils to take action quickly, and this workshop was designed to help them make the most of the relatively new powers, which should deter irresponsible horse ownership and drive up welfare."

She added: “Spreading best practice and helping local councils to work together - and with charities and others - is one of the best ways to help protect horse welfare, especially in the difficult economic circumstances councils find themselves in at the moment.”

After an introduction to the Control of Horses Act by Rachel Williams, the training continued with a talk about multi-agency working from Steven Gale, animal health and welfare officer for Stockton on Tees Borough Council.

Andy Shaw from GRC Bailiffs gave an insight into the role of bailiffs when it comes to equine issues, and Claire Gordon, chief field officer from World Horse Welfare, spoke about the ways in which animal welfare charities can assist when problems with fly-grazed horses arise, and also their limitations.

The day rounded off with a discussion on the welfare problems posed to fly-grazing horses, led by Nicolas de Brauwere, head of welfare and behaviour at Redwings Horse Sanctuary. This was followed by a practical handling session using some of the rescued horses and ponies at RSPCA Lockwood.