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As ERF visit markets and welfare cases, we often need to find the owners of animals or check the history of the animals that we see. As all equines in France now have to be chipped by law, we need to purchase at least one hand-held microchip scanner for the team.

The cost of scanners has fallen rapidly recently and they are now available for as little as 150€. If only 30 people give 5€ today then we will be able to make an even greater difference for equines in France. Just click the Paypal button on the right or leave us a pledge in the comments below and we’ll come back to you.

Please pledge a fiver today…thank you.

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Princess Haya, in her position as President of the FEI, has spoken out in favour of compulsory microchipping and passporting. Speaking to top European Veterinary officials attending the third European Veterinary Week (EVW) in Brussels today, the FEI President highlighted the need to create a clear distinction between the sport horse as an equine athlete and livestock that is part of the food chain.
“As an industry and as an organisation, we completely support the EU requirement for the now compulsory passports of all equines within the community and the introduction of mandatory microchipping”

The whole FEI article can be read HERE.

At last this issue is being addressed by a wider section of the horse population. To date, those concerned with traceability and identification of equines have been mostly welfare groups and government organisations concerned about the health aspects within the food chain.

With the export of unwanted/unsound British horses to European abattoirs, and the import of well bred but unsound European horses from the abattoirs queues to be sold on as competition horses in the UK, this is a welcome and overdue raising of the topic.

We also support the suggestions for changes to the TPA in this INAGS ARTICLE.

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Why oh why??

I am about to do something that we don’t normally do …….. rant! Why? Because once again, we’ve invested our precious time and money in trying to help out a family who called us in desperation, only to be told they’ve changed their mind after all – here’s the story:

Living in France hadn’t turned out to be the dream life the family expected and they needed to return to the UK but couldn’t take their two horses with them. They had tried to sell them but had had no success so asked ERF to rehome them instead. With the horses best interest at heart we:

  1. went to visit to assess the horses (3 hours + 126km round trip),
  2. organised all the paperwork, update web site etc. (2 hours)
  3. contacted everyone who had expressed an interest in this type of horse (2 hours)
  4. homechecked a possible Guardian (2 hours, 50kms)
  5. arranged for the family to sign the handover form (1 hour)
  6. and finally, we arranged the visit of the potential Guardian.

The potential Guardian drove 2 1/2 hours in each direction to visit on Sunday.

Then at 11pm on the same day, the e-mail arrived:

Thank you for your efforts in rehoming my two horses but fortunatly my husband has been able to secure a loan and will be returning to France to arrange  for the transportation of our horses to our home in the UK, once again thanks for all your help

These horses were signed over to us and we had a potential new home! We had invested 10+ hours and costs, and now were left to tell the person who they had allowed to visit the same day that the visit had been in vain. Did the family not think it would be courteous to have postponed the visit or to be honest that despite having signed over the horses, they were still pursuing other options? Our follow up e-mails have been ignored and no donation has been offered or received to cover our expenses.

Here are the types of things that we can do with 10 hours:

  • continue the training & rehab of the animals in our care already
  • follow up welfare cases
  • visit new welfare cases
  • FUNDRAISE to fill our dwindling coffers
  • continue our campaign to improve welfare at horse fairs in France

and the list goes on……and I haven’t even mentioned spending time with our own families and animals.

The petrol money could have gone towards farriers, medication, vets bills….

Finally, as we are all volunteers, I really would like to ask this family whether they would ever contemplate spending 10 hours and their own cash helping a complete stranger with a problem?

So, what will we do differently next time? This isn’t the first time this has happened and unfortunately we now feel the need to protect ERF from individuals squandering our resources in this way in the future. We have to toughen our rules and from this point forward, if anyone wishes us to to rehome their animal then we will either need to have the owners card in our possession (i.e. have full legal ownership of the animal) or take a non-refundable deposit that will cover the above.

We are saddened that the actions of a few have forced us into this situation. It’s seems these days that a person’s word or signature on a handover form is not enough…..

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Vigiferme

Our friends at PMAF (Protection mondiale des animaux de ferme) have produced an excellent set of materials aimed at helping both individuals and organisations understand if animals are being maltreated here in France. The materials clearly show what is acceptable alongside the laws that are in place to protect animals in farming.  Their website contains a vast amount of information on all farm animals with a large section on equines here.

Please take a look at the site if you have any conerns about animals near you – it’s a great starting point.

Vigiferme

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Unwanted Horses in America

The link below is to a superbly informative and unbiased article written by Veterinarian Tom Lenz about the problems faced by the horse population in America. Excluding the feral horses, in many ways it echoes problems faced by the horse everywhere. Indeed, it is similar to the UK in as much horses are shipped out of the country to slaughter.

Food for thought.

This quoted paragraph here highlights one of the facts that the average horse owner seems unwilling to accept;
Observational studies conducted in 2001 reveal that “riding” horses make up 74% of the horses processed for meat as opposed to draft or other horse types.

Backed up with this information;
US Department of Agriculture (USDA) export records on US horses shipped to Canadian processing plants in 2002-2005 reveal 70% were western type horses, 11% were English or Thoroughbred type horses, 3.6% were draft type horses, and the rest included various breeds or types of horses or mules.

This suggests that horse owners need to become more responsible about what to do with their individual horses that they no longer want. It’s not just other people’s horses that go for slaughter, it could easily be the horse you sold because it didn’t fit your ambitions or got too old to compete ……… it is up to the individual owner to take responsibility for their horse’s future.

A horse should not be just a commodity.

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Disaster in Waiting

Two horses in Wiltshire in the UK have recently tested positive for EIA. They have been destroyed, and another 50 horses are currently under observation. They are believed to belong to dealers who keep their horses in large barns, and have a continual flow of horses through private customers and the sale rings. The potential for spread is alarming.

This is a Notifiable Disease, with compulsory slaughter for any equine testing positive. The DEFRA website has more information about the procedures in the UK. Unfortunately, there is no obligation for an insurance company to pay out under such circumstances, and the DEFRA compensation is a princely £1 per animal.

Horses are allowed to travel freely between France Ireland and the UK under an agreement called the TPA. Although effective when set up in the 1970s, many of the stipulations in the agreement are no longer relevant.

INAGs (ERF’s sister site in the UK), has uncovered evidence of meat horses (with breed passports) travelling freely from Europe, including Rumania where EIA is endemic, to the UK. The EU borders are not policed, and horses going to slaughter are not required to have health checks, or a Coggin’s test. These horses are travelled to France to be transported across the channel under the TPA, and then sold on as riding horses in the UK.

We would like to ask you to read and sign this petition, in the hope that DEFRA will listen, and change the rulings to help prevent diseases such as this becoming a disaster similar to Foot & Mouth.

PETITION

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Kind hearted horse owner Naomi gave us a wonderful Christmas present this week when she came up with the generous idea of donating the money she would usually spend on sending Christmas cards to ERF. We are immensely grateful to Naomi who has always offered such wonderful support to our association in the past.

From all of us and the horses..Thank You!

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