Animal welfare campaigners have slammed horse and cart racers for dicing with death by causing chaos on busy main roads.Footage posted online showed a convoy of six vehicles following a horse and cart race on the A189 in Northumberland.
The racers are side by side on the dual carriageway near Blyth, surrounded by fast moving vehicles taking over the full breadth of the road.And the drivers can be seen swerving sharply to avoid the carriages and each other as they try to keep up with the horses.Another video posted online showed people driving at high speeds with the boot of their cars open while they cheering on the race
Animal Aid’s horse racing consultant Dene Stansall has today dubbed the footage “dangerous” and urged police to prosecute those responsible.He said: “Anyone doing it should be banned from keeping horses. There’s a big injury risk and injured horses have been left on the side of the road to die.“If it is the travelling community then they usually look after their horses but there are some that will try self remedy but that is against the 2006 Animal Welfare Act.
“It’s a risk to the general public too. If a horse runs into a car or a pedestrian then there could be a fatality because they can weigh up to half a tonne.”Horse owners do not have to pass a test to ride their animals on the road.Rule 47 of the Highway Code states horse-drawn vehicles “should be operated and maintained in accordance with standards set out in the Department for Transport’s Code of Practice”.
This code includes a list of safety checks and as well as a road driving assessment, which is not a compulsory requirement.Mr Stansall said: “You can’t go on the motorway with your horses but you can go on any other public road. You don’t need a licence in anyway.“If you use it to make money or move the public about then the only rule your breaking comes under a public order offence for putting the pubic in danger.”
A Northumbria Police spokesman said: “We are aware of the footage circulating online of horse and trap racing in Northumberland but nothing has been reported to police.
“We would encourage anyone who witnesses these types of incidents to contact police so we can identify those involved and establish whether any criminal offences have taken place.”To report an incident call Northumbria Police on 101.