Under the Animal Welfare Act (2006), every owner, or the person responsible, for an animal has a duty of care to ensure that animal’s wellbeing while under their care. It is therefore an offence not only to cause suffering or ill treatment but also to fail to take adequate measures to protect the animal’s welfare even if it is not yet suffering.

Throughout these rules, the term “Pony” will be used to describe horses and ponies irrespective of size or gender. The term “Owner” will be used to describe the responsible adults for each pony.

 Health

– Ponies attending MGAGB events must be in good health and fit enough to cope with the demands of the event and any associated travelling. If this is deemed to not be the case, you may be asked to leave the ring by the referee. This is in the interest of rider & pony welfare, of yours and those around you.

– Ponies attending events should be at least 4 years old. Pregnant mares should not be ridden at events unless accompanied by a veterinary certificate and mares over 6 months pregnant are not permitted. Stallions are not permitted.

– Health and welfare are inextricably linked. Owners must act responsibly and not attend an event if their horse has been in recent contact with a disease outbreak even if their horse appears to be in good health. As a general rule, a period of at least 2 weeks free from exposure to known infection would be considered reasonable.

– Owners are strongly encouraged to have their horses vaccinated against equine flu. Annual vaccination is necessary to maintain adequate levels of immunity and vaccination is routinely combined with tetanus vaccination, which although not transmissible between horses, is frequently fatal and considered an essential of responsible horse ownership. Event organisers may insist on evidence of up to date flu and tetanus vaccination which must be recorded in the horse’s passport.

– In the interest of preventing spread of disease, owners should avoid tack sharing and horses should have their own feed and water buckets. Event organisers should ensure that clean, fresh water from a tap rather than using communal drinking troughs.

– Clean, fresh water should be readily available to your pony throughout the event, excluding directly after competing. Ponies should have access to roughage and water throughout the night. Owners should be reminded that many corrals are sparse of grass by the second evening and it is advised to bring hay/haylage, or similar, with you to provide to your pony overnight. Ponies burn up a lot of energy competing and it is deemed healthier for them to be able to trickle feed rather than just feed hard food alone throughout an event.

Medications

-It is clearly essential for the welfare of a horse that appropriate veterinary treatment is given when required, including appropriate medication. However, medication may mask an underlying health problem. Therefore, horses should not compete or take part in training activities when taking medication, if the combination of the medication and the activity may have a detrimental effect on the horse’s welfare.

-Ponies that are apparently fit and healthy, but receiving veterinary treatment with prescription drugs, may be allowed to attend MGAGB events. Some medications are required for the ongoing health and welfare of a pony which is otherwise fit and capable of normal work. An example of this could be treatment for Cushing’s disease. If a pony is running on prescribed drugs, details of such should be available to be viewed by Event Organisers should they be required.

-The Event Organisers may eliminate a pony from an event if it is receiving analgesic or anti-inflammatory medication (e.g. phenylbutazone), or if participation in the event is, in the opinion of the organisers, likely to be detrimental to the pony’s health and welfare.

Transport

The welfare of ponies being transported is protected by specific legislation (2006 & 2007) in addition to the Animal Welfare Act (2006) a summary of the legal requirements is below and is strongly advised to be adhered to for MGAGB event travel.

– The pony must be fit to travel and the transport (horsebox or trailer) must be roadworthy, clean and fit for purpose. Common faults are weak floors and ramps, illegal or underinflated tyres and poorly maintained couplings and lights.

– When travelling, the pony must be accompanied by a person suitably experienced in transporting equines. Preferably they should be familiar with the pony being transported.

– It is a legal requirement that a pony travelling to an event is accompanied by its passport. This applies even if the pony is hacked to the event.

– A travelling kit, appropriate to the length of journey, must be carried. This must include feed, water, clean buckets, rugs and a first aid kit containing a minimum of: a thermometer, cotton wool, gamgee, non-adherent dressing such as Melonin, self-adhesive bandages, adhesive tape and blunt ended scissors. When a pony is hacked to an event, provisions must be made for access to these items including a headcollar or halter.

– Ponies should only be left unattended in a horsebox or trailer if they are known to be comfortable and relaxed in that situation. Ventilation and access to the pony must be maintained.

Rider Aids

– Riders must use natural aids; seat, legs, body weight, hands (via rein) & voice. And use these aids in the natural way intended.

– A pony must not be reprimanded by repeated yanking on the bit. Any rider seen to be doing so shall be reprimanded via the disciplinary code of conduct. Ponies seen bleeding from the mouth is deemed unacceptable.

– A pony may not be struck by any object, including your hand, inside or outside of the competition ring. Anyone seen to be doing so shall be reprimanded by the referee. Any secondary offences will be passed on to the Ground Jury and a decision made via the disciplinary code of conduct.