'My horses are not being sold for meat' says owner of tethered group of horses in Milton Keynes
A group of horses tethered by chains on land owned by a government organisation have prompted a stream of complaints from animal lovers.
The dozen or more horses are in a field at Tattenhoe Park, directly opposite Priory Rise Primary School.
This week their owner, a man called Nathan, denied claims that he was shipping the horses to France to be sold for meat.
He has also denied the horses are poorly looked after and said permanent tethering was an ancient practice that is “common” in the equine world.
“There are stallions and colts in the same field. If I didn't tether them they could injure each other,” he said.
The RSPCA confirmed it has received complaints from members of the public about the animals One of their inspectors, together with a World Horse Welfare field officer, visited the horses last week.
In a joint statement, the RSPCA and World Horse Welfare said: "We regularly visit these horses and, last week, an RSPCA inspector and World Horse Welfare field officer went to Tattenhoe Park to check the welfare of all of the horses at the site.
”While we do not believe that tethering is an ideal way of keeping a horse, it is not illegal in itself. We understand why members of the public can find tethering worrying.”
They added: “When we visited the horses had plenty of grazing, access to water and appeared to be in good condition.”
Members of the public have complained the horses looked “unkempt” with long forelocks obscuring their vision. And some of the head collars and tethers appeared too tight and people claimed were the cause of sores on their skin.
“One of the ponies had a big growth/abscess on his face which looked as though it had been caused by the head collar being too tight. Most of the horses have overgrown hooves and some have such long forelocks that they literally cannot see a thing and their hair is too heavy for them to flick back out of their eyes,” said one woman.
Nathan has denied these claims and says the animals are well treated and healthy. He also denies he has told passers-by that his horses are sold for meat.
He says his horses have been on the field for more than 20 years.
"If they're being sold for meat, they would disappear from the field, wouldn't they?" he said.
The land is owned by Homes England, which was set up by the government as a non-departmental public body to fund affordable housing throughout the country.
Homes England confirmed this week that the owner of the horses does not pay anything for use of the field.
A Homes England spokesperson said: “We are aware of the situation, which the parish council and RSPCA are actively monitoring.
Meanwhile, Nathan says he has asked for police to investigate recent incidents of “criminal damage” to his horses where people have let them loose from the tethers and cut their manes and forelocks.