Ragwort Toolkit what you should know

Ragwort is an important plant ecologically. The British Horse Society has created a ragwort toolkit which has a number of false and misleading statements. The British Horse Society has a notorious reputation for poor information on this matter.

There are a number of things which we would take issue with them on the basis of the facts.

Contrary to what they imply living ragwort does not pose a significant risk to horses as they will not eat the living plant. The only exception to this is in cases of abuse where animals are starved into eating anything and this is illegal cruelty which needs to be dealt with as such. Ragwort in hay or other forage is a real danger, but they only mention this significant matter in passing, and then in a very unclear way. They mislead people as to the nature of the law as, contrary to what they say the Weeds Act 1959, does not place any automatic obligations on anyone, but merely allows the Minister to order that an "occupier of land" takes action to prevent certain weeds from spreading. This legislation was hardly used until the British Horse Society stated a campaign of outrageous misinformation.

This is all too typical of what we see from the society and its officers. Like, for example, claiming that ragwort is a serious problem in South Africa when the experts who record plants there say that there is no record of the plant ever growing there.

The general message is if the British Horse society says anything about ragwort then it is very likely to be wrong.


Swansea Friends of the Earth