The British Horse Society (BHS) has presented the results of its research into ragwort at a stakeholder summit with the U.K.'s Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (Defra) and Lord de Mauley after conducting the largest survey of the English equine population.

At a stakeholder summit being held at Defra’s headquarters The British Horse Society revealed their recommendations for tackling concern about ragwort, a plant that can cause serious, and sometimes fatal harm, to horses.

The British Horse Society, with Defra’s input, will be producing a toolkit for local equine groups to give people clear and targeted advice about the best practice and effective mechanisms for both control on own land and legal responsibilities in connection with ragwort.

Additionally, The British Horse Society is calling for the establishment of local Ragwort Action Partnerships between local authorities, public, and private landowners, and local equine groups. The aim of these partnerships is to help improve communication between these groups and ensure ragwort is controlled in areas used by horses.

These plans come after The British Horse Society, supported by Defra, conducted the largest survey of the English equine population to assess levels of awareness and concern about ragwort. It received 13,963 responses and showed a high awareness of ragwort, both in terms of its appearance and the affect it can have on livestock.

The key findings of the survey included:

  • 20% of the respondents knew of instances where horses had been suspected or confirmed as having been harmed by ragwort poisoning;

  • 93% sai