LOCAL authority inspectors from across Wales have been in Herefordshire training in how to handle horses and assess their welfare.

The skills will allow them to investigate complaints from the public about alleged cases of cruelty and neglect involving horses, ponies and donkeys.

The trading standards and environmental health inspectors were given hands-on training at Bransby Home of Rest for Horses in Stoke Prior in how to safely approach a horse, fit a head collar and lead the animal.

They were also shown how to assess a horse's health and welfare, and its environment to decide whether there are any welfare concerns.

The training was funded by the Welsh Assembly Government’s Companion Animal Welfare Enhancement Scheme (CAWES) and was facilitated by the Welsh Animal Health and Welfare Panel. The one-day course was organised and run by equine charities The Horse Trust and Redwings. Another was held at the Society for Welfare of Horse and Ponies in Monmouth.

Paul Jepson, chief executive and veterinary director of The Horse Trust, said: “This proactive approach will improve the welfare of horses across Wales, ensuring that welfare cases are dealt with effectively and minimising the suffering caused to horses,” he said.

Jenny MacGregor MBE, chairman of the Society for the Welfare of Horses and Ponies, said: “This training course is very welcome as we have seen a lot of equine welfare problems.”

Philip York, general manager of the Bransby Home, said: “ This training will have huge benefits for everyone concerned with equine welfare in Wales.”