How do I report an abandoned horse?

Any animal found on a public highway should be reported to the police. If you feel there is an immediate danger to road users phone 999, otherwise phone the non-emergency line on 101.

Most abandonment and fly-grazing cases are a civil matter and are not under the jurisdiction of the council. However, if the horse is on the land owned by the council we will try to take the necessary action with the owner of the horse. If horses have been abandoned or are fly-grazing on public land near you, report it to us by phoning 0191 2787878.

If the horse is on private or public land and you think it may be in distress you can report it to the RSPCA. Their 24 hour phone number is 0300 1234999.

The problems of illegal fly-grazing and abandonment include issues around animal welfare and public safety.

What is fly-grazing?

Fly-grazing is the deliberate grazing of horses on land without the landowner's permission. The horses may not have been abandoned, but the land is being used illegally. In some cases, horses may have originally been there legally, but the rental agreement between the land owner and the owner of the horses may have terminated and the horses not moved.

What is abandonment?

Abandonment is when a horse is deliberately left somewhere by an owner either permanently or for a sufficient amount of time so that it could end up suffering unnecessarily. Abandoning a horse is illegal under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 and the Animals Act 1971.

Guidance for landowners

For advice on how to prevent fly-grazing and horse abandonment, as well as advice on how to deal a horse on your land, please visit the Redwings Sanctuary website

DEFRA guidance

The Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) have produced a Code of Practice for the Welfare of Horses and Ponies. This explains the 'duty of care' for those who own or are responsible for a horse including how to provide for a horse's needs as laid down by the Animal Welfare Act. View the DEFRA code of practice.

Control of Horses Act 2015

On the 26 March 2015 the Control of Horses Act 2015 received Royal Assent. The Act introduces new powers into the Animals Act 1971. Section 7A provides for powers of local authorities in England to detain horses. Section 7B provides powers of freeholders and occupiers in England to detain horses. Section 7C provides for powers of detention.     

Useful external websites

Grazing Land

To make an enquiry about which areas may be available for the legal grazing of horses or other animals in the City go to our Grazing Land webpage.


To view a television programme on the issue go to BBC Tyne and Wear News on the 10 November 2014 

To see the outcome of enforcement action recently taken in Northumberland go the Chronicle of the 2 October 2015 

This information is not an authoritative interpretation of the law and is intended only for guidance. For further information please contact the Trading Standards Service, Public Safety Regulation and Development, City of Newcastle upon Tyne, Civic Centre, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 8QH.
Phone: 0191 2116121

Page last updated: 
13 March 2018
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