Publication - Advice and guidance

Welfare of equidae: code of practice

Published: 30 Apr 2009
Agriculture and Rural Economy Directorate
Part of:
Farming and rural

This guide covers all domesticated equidae for which a person is responsible, including all horses, ponies, donkeys and hybrids and details a set of principles underpinning equine care.

Welfare of equidae: code of practice
Appendix B: tethering

Appendix B: tethering

A suitability of the animal
1. Not all animals are suitable for tethering.
2. Young animals under two years old should not be tethered.
3. Pregnant animals should not be tethered in the last third of pregnancy.
4. Nursing mothers should not be tethered.
5. Mares should not be tethered near stallions.
6. Stallions should not be tethered.
7. Sick animals should not be tethered.
8. Old and infirm animals should not be tethered.

B Site (the area to which the tethered animal has access)
1. The site should be reasonably level, have good grass cover, and be free of any objects, natural or man made, which could ensnare the tether.
2. The site should not allow the horse access to a public roadway.
3. A site in which a high proportion of the herbage consists of weeds is not suitable.
4. The site should not be waterlogged.
5. The site should not be crossed by any public right of way.
6. The site should not have anything on it, which might injure an animal.
7. The site should not be used without the written permission of the landowner.
8. An adequate area for tethering should allow access by any part of the animal's body and with an extra 4 metres between the hind quarters of one animal and another.

C Tethering equipment
1. Either a well-fitting leather head collar, or a broad leather neck strap must be used. These should be fitted with a 360° swivel device where the chain is attached.
2. The chain should be approximately 20ft in length, and must be strong enough to prevent breakage, but light enough to prevent pressure sores from the tethering equipment. Rope or nylon should not be used.
3. The ground stake must not protrude above ground level, and must be fitted with a 360° swivel.

D Food and water
1. In many cases the site will provide adequate food in the form of grass; where this is the case the tether site should be changed at least once daily to ensure the quality of the pasture.
2. If the grass is not sufficient for the animal's need, sufficient forage food should be available throughout each day.
3. Water should be made available, on a regular basis throughout the day, in a spill-proof container.
4. Containers for concentrate food should be kept in a clean and safe condition.

E Shelter
1. Animals should not be exposed to the full heat of the sun, to heavy rain, snow or hail, or to strong winds for other than very short periods. In extremes of weather shelter should be provided.
2. Shelter should, at a minimum, provide shade from the sun and from severe wind. In prolonged rain, a well drained area or hard standing must be available.

F Exercise
1. Animals must be given freedom to exercise off the tether for a reasonable period at least once a day.

G Supervision
1. Tethered animals require a high level of supervision, and should be inspected no less frequently than six hourly intervals during normal waking hours.
2. Provision should be made to deal with situations where extremes of weather or other circumstances occur.

H Identification
1. All tethered animals should be marked in such a way as to be permanently identifiable, and from this identification the keeper or owner should be able to be readily contacted.
2. This could be achieved by use of a freeze-brand or microchip registered with a 24-hour access database.
3. Alternatively the animal could have some form of identification attached to the head collar or neck strap giving full details of the keeper or owner.
4. It will be a requirement that all animals born after 1 July 2009 will have to be microchipped. All details will appear on the National Equine Database.

I Other requirements
1. Animals may need protection from ill-intentioned persons.