New regulations relating to the transfer of ownership of horses came into effect last month, which it is hoped may address some of the issues surrounding sulkies and horse control.
The topic has been the subject of much debate in Kilkenny this year, following a number of incidents of alleged animal mistreatment and traffic incidents where horses or sulkies have been involved.
The new regulations mean that the ownership details of all new foals registered, and horses bought and sold, will be captured by Passport Issuing Bodies and on by the Department of Agriculture’s equine database, thereby readily identifying the owner/person responsible for the animal.
It follows a Parliamentary Question to the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney in June by local TD John McGuinness. The Fianna Fail TD had asked the minister about ‘his plans to ban or control sulky racing on roads and in public places; if he is concerned by the number of horses that have died because of accidents arising from sulky racing and use of sulkys on public roads; if he will investigate the welfare of such horses and establish a licence or registration system; and if he will make a statement on the matter’.
In his response, Minister Coveneny said that, like all activities on the public road, sulky racing is governed by the Road Traffic Acts. He said that under the Control of Horses Act 1996, local authorities have powers to designate exclusion areas by enacting bye-laws prohibiting persons from having a horse in certain areas – and this could extend to horses used in sulky racing.
“I would urge all local authorities to consider implementing these provisions in order to reduce the indiscriminate riding of horses by sulky racers,” he said.