I am a strong advocate of animal welfare, including that of horses, and I am proud of the United Kingdom’s strong record on animal welfare. I am also pleased that the UK Government has worked over recent years to build on that record and improve animal welfare standards even further, including through the passage of the Control of Horses Act 2015.
Here in Scotland, many aspects of animal welfare and its enforcement are the responsibility of the Scottish Government, which is committed under the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006 to protecting the welfare of animals. It is illegal under the Act to cause any unnecessary suffering to animals in Scotland.
In 2009, the Scottish Government published the Code of Practice for the Welfare of Equidae, which states that tethering is not a suitable method of long-term management for a horse, but notes that tethering may be useful as an exceptional short-term method of animal management. The Code of Practice sets out advice on how horses can be tethered, where necessary, in a manner that meets their welfare needs. I am not aware of any plans on the part of the Scottish Government to change these aspects of the Code of Practice in the near future.