On Private Property

If the horse is on private property, it is the Landowner’s responsibility.

In the first instance, the horse/s should be reported, specifically to SHBC Corporate Enforcement Team, on 01276 707100 during office hours (01276 707182 Out of Hours).

They will carry out a welfare visit, possibly in conjunction with the RSPCA (or similar organisation) and then contact the Landowner and advise them to employ an Equine Bailiff.

Also to the Police on the non-emergency line 101.

If the horse appears injured or unwell, call the RSPCA Emergency Line 0300 1234 999 

On the Highway

If there is a large animal on the Highway and it is likely to cause injury or an accident, call the Police on 999.

Otherwise call the non-emergency line 101.

Local Authorities also have the power to detain horses under the Animals Act 1971.
In Surrey Heath, this would be the Corporate Enforcement Team, on 01276 707100 during office hours (01276 707182 Out of Hours)

If the large animal is deceased (Highways Only)

Surrey County Council provide an out of hours standby service for emergencies within Surrey on 0300 200 1003.

Between 8am and 6pm it will be answered by the Contact Centre, after 6pm you will be transferred to the Emergency Team.

Provide as much detail as possible, to enable the right course of action to be quickly identified and carried out.

Helpful Advice*

  • If you find an abandoned horse on your land, remember that it may well be frightened and should not be approached unless necessary.
  • As well as the police, you can also report the situation to the RSPCA, as their local inspectors may have relevant information. This is especially important if the horse is in poor condition, alternatively you can contact a vet if you are concerned for its health.
  • Offer the horse some fresh water and, if possible, contain it in a place where it can graze safely. If you do move it to a safe area, keep a record of it and put up the notice (see above) on the land or near the area you have removed it from. If your land is not secure and there may be a danger to road users, make sure you inform the police and ask them for their advice.
  • You can ask a vet to scan the horse for a microchip. If the horse has one, contact your Local Authority as well as microchipping companies such as Petlog, Avid or Petprotect.
  • Look for deliberate tampering with your fencing or gates and take photographs. This will help determine whether the horse has been put there intentionally, or if it is a stray and may assist in proving damages.
  • Do not put the horse within touching distance of other horse. It may have an infectious disease such as strangles.
  • If you can get close enough to the horse safely, look to see if it has a freezemark. If it does, make a note of the mark and contact Farmkey on 0870 870 7107 or Freezemark Ltd on 01295 690090
  • Look for signs of active care such as being shod, clipped, having a hogged mane, trimmed tail or trimmed whiskers, which would indicate that there is an active owner and the horse has escaped. However, do not assume that a horse with an unkempt appearance has been abandoned. If it is a large group of horses, it is more likely that your land is being fly-grazed.
  • Check and for horses that have been stolen.

*Information from Redwings Horse Sanctuary. 2018

For more independent information and advice see: 

Redwings Horse Sanctuary
Non-local but offers excellent advice, both online and by phone
01508 481000

RSPCA Millbrook Animal Centre
Guildford Rd, Chobham, Woking GU24 8EH
Closed - Mon
1130 - 1600 Tues to Sun
0300 123 0740