All sensible people will support the highest standards of animal welfare and I agree with you about the importance of protecting Equines throughout the UK. The Animal Welfare Act 2006 makes it an offence to cause any unnecessary suffering to animals, or for a responsible party to fail to provide for their welfare. I am, therefore, deeply concerned with the statistic that 40% of Local Authorities do not employ an Animal Welfare Inspector despite being the only body, other than the police, who can legally seize an animal suffering neglect, abuse or abandonment.
The statutory Code of Practice for the Welfare of Horses, Ponies, Donkeys and their Hybrids includes advice on how to tether these animals, where necessary, and in a manner that meets their welfare needs. The Code specifically states that tethering is not suitable for long-term use, but can be used exceptionally in the short term on suitable animals given an appropriate site and equipment. Any failure to adhere to the Code can be used in court to demonstrate neglect. It also states that old and infirm animals should not be tethered.
It should be stressed that in Wales, although tethering is not illegal, there is a strict set of laws regarding the tethering of Equines contained within the Control of Horses (Wales) Act 2014. While the act does not entirely eliminate the tethering of horses, mules or donkeys, it does prevent some of the worst abuses to Equines by preventing individuals from tethering horses in dangerous areas.
If anyone is concerned about the way a horse is tethered, I would urge them to report it to their local authority, which has powers under the Animal Welfare Act to investigate such matters. The RSPCA and World Horse Welfare can also investigate.
I believe that that all local authorities should have fully trained animal welfare inspectors who can ensure that the Animal Welfare Act 2006 is enforced.