The British Horse Society (BHS) is conducting a snapshot survey of the scale of the ragwort problem that affects the equine population of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
Ragwort is extremely toxic to horses. It acts cumulatively, a horse can consume small amounts of it over a long period of time with no apparent ill effects. But if enough is consumed, no matter over how long a period, the ragwort will cause irreversible liver damage that leads to inevitable death. Ragwort is controlled under the Weeds Act (1959) and Ragwort Control Act (2003) but despite this it appears to be increasing in abundance and distribution.
The BHS is therefore asking for reports of ragwort spotted during the week of 22 - 29 July. We will use this data to discover how widespread ragwort is, where it is most prevalent and how many horses, cattle and sheep are grazing on ragwort-affected land. We can then hopefully use this to lobby for better enforcement of the existing laws or even for new legislation if the scale of the problem demands it.
So, please, keep your eyes peeled and if you spot any ragwort close to or in fields grazed by horses, cattle or sheep during Ragwort Awareness Week (22 - 29 July) do take a couple of minutes to report it to us using this survey. We only need to know simple information - such as its location and how many animals are nearby.