No plans to ask horse owners to pick up ‘foul’ when riding in public spaces

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The Agriculture Minister has confirmed he has no plans to introduce legislation that would require horse owners to “lift up horse foul” whilst riding in a public space.

Mr Poots was responding to an assembly question tabled by Peter Weir, the DUP MLA for Strangford.

In his written question, Mr Weir asked the DAERA Minister whether his department plans to introduce a policy that requires horse owners to lift up horse foul left by their horse whilst riding in a public space.

In his response, Mr Poots explained: “Dogs primarily rely on a meat-based diet, meaning their foul can contain bacteria such as Salmonella, E. Coli and Campylobacter, which are dangerous if transmitted to other pets or humans.


“Horses, however, have a plant-based diet with significantly lower risks of toxins, even if a typical pile of manure is more sizeable.

“I can confirm that I have no plans to introduce legislation on this matter as, unlike dog foul, horse foul from a healthy horse does not present a significant risk to human health,” the minister ended.

Another equestrian-related question was submitted recently by North Antrim MLA Paul Frew, who asked how the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs is working to promote and create off-road trails for horse riders.

Mr Poots said his department, in conjunction with other departments and local councils, is exploring the potential to establish a network of bridleways and safe off-road destinations for horse riders, as part of the Strategy and Action plan being developed for the equine sector.

“It recently established a working group in which it is collaborating with representatives from the British Horse Society, Ulster Rural Riders’ Association and Newry, Mourne and Down District Council, to map the riding routes currently available in Northern Ireland and identify areas which would benefit from new or additional routes,” Mr Poots outlined.

“As part of the Action Plan it is developing, my department also plans to explore measures to encourage land owners to develop bridleways on their land.

“In addition, it is currently reviewing the legislative requirements associated with access to the natural environment for outdoor recreation as part of its Outdoor Recreation Action Plan for Northern Ireland,” he concluded.

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