The Persecution of Ben Street

Recently, barefoot trimmer Ben Street was convicted under the British Animal Welfare Act for causing unnecessary suffering to a horse.

According to the prosecution, Street had over-rasped and bevelled the hoofs causing pain.
The prosecution was brought by the FRC (the Farriers’ Registration Council) and the RSPCA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals). Both these organisations are well financed and both had a personal interest in pursuing this prosecution: the FRC would obviously like to see the obliteration of all things barefoot since they feel it is a major challenge to their status and their traditions; the RSPCA is no longer particularly active in true animal welfare charity but has degenerated into an organisation that is trying to maintain a high profile and thereby maintain a sizeable income from donations.

Apparently the prosecution pivots around a lack of record-keeping and photographic evidence – but most notable is 1) the original complaint was by a farrier and it was investigated by an RSPCA officer who himself is a farrier, and 2) the judge decided to ignore the advice of both an equine veterinary surgeon and an equine podiatrist.

Although Street did overstep the mark and technically broke the law by applying glue-on boots (a legal prerogative of the farrier), the shoddy evidence should never have led to this sort of prosecution. And I would defy almost any farrier to provide records of their work similar to those that were requested of Street.

More information can be found on the Fighting for the Barefoot Horse website

Give me a reason to shoe…


This hoof has been propped up and weighted to encourage the “Big Lick” so loved by the Tennessee Walking Horse community

…and I’ll give you two reasons not to.
There are so many arguments why a horse should be shod – but really they are all excuses. And there is no excuse for this continuing mediæval practice.
In most western countries there are laws protecting animals against cruelty, unnatural and unnecessary practices – and yet none seems to want to put these laws into effect when it comes to the welfare of horses and ponies.
In France, Article L214-1 of the Code Rural states that:
“All sentient animals must kept by their owners in a condition and environment appropriate to their species”

In Great Britain, the Animal Welfare Act (2006) states in Section 9, Subsection 2:
For the purposes of this Act, an animal’s needs shall be taken to include—
(a) its need for a suitable environment,
(b) its need for a suitable diet,
(c) its need to be able to exhibit normal behaviour patterns,
(d) any need it has to be housed with, or apart from, other animals, and
(e) its need to be protected from pain, suffering, injury and disease.

and yet in all these countries, horses are still shod and kept in boxes.

Even more worrying is the situation in the Netherlands where there still is no actual Animal Welfare Act or similar and the equine sector itself has been asked to draw up guidelines in relation to equine welfare.

There are indications of European animal welfare legislation but as with most things in Europe, it will either be watered down or, worse still, deemed inappropriate in certain countries either because they find it “inapplicable”, “unenforceable” or “goes against cultural heritage”.