Abandonment and fly-grazing of horses

The Animals Act 1971 has been amended by the Control of Horses Act 2015. It provides landowners in England with additional rights to deal with horses that are unlawfully grazing on their land. The aim of the Act is to deal with the issue of fly-grazing, straying or abandoned horses which present numerous difficulties for landowners, the public and the horses themselves. For example, horses may present a risk to public safety, particularly when left on public land, such as parks.

The effect that horses have on the land can be considerable, particularly in areas where grazing is poor. The land is taken over illegally and fencing can be damaged to allow access to the horses. The cost of dealing with trespassing horses can be substantial. Additionally, horses that are not properly cared for can quickly become a welfare concern. Cases of neglected and starving horses are often due to their abandonment.

If anyone believes that a horse is being fly-grazed on City Council land, such as a park or an allotment either visit the Parks webpage or phone the City Council on (0191) 278 7878. If the Council takes action, it will employ an equine bailiff to seize and detain the horse. In this situation the Council will take over responsibility for the welfare of the horse. We have the right to detain the horse(s) for four working days after which time, ownership of the animals passes to the Council. This is an extremely costly process.


Directorate of Operations and Regulatory Services, Civic Centre, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 8QH. Email: psr@newcastle.gov.uk

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