Horses – fly grazing / trespassing

Your rights as a land owner

This advice is designed to provide basic guidance. It is not a complete or authoritative statement of the law. Please note that some of the advice we provide to businesses is chargeable.

Animals Act 1971 as amended by the Control of Horses Act 2015

Under the Animals Act 1971 as amended by the Control of Horses Act 2015, you have certain rights to detain any horses that are on any land in England without lawful authority.

If horses have strayed onto your land, the easiest option is to locate the owner of the horse(s) and ask them to collect them.

Information on who owns horses can often be obtained from local stable yards, farms, equestrian suppliers, etc.

Where a horse is on any land in England without authority - summary

The occupier of the land, or the freeholder (if not the occupant) with the occupier’s consent may detain the horse.

  • Within 24 hours of detaining the horse you must give notice of the detention to the officer in charge of a police station and the horse’s owner if known.
  • Place notices in the area where the horse was found. Notice template
  • You should arrange for the horse to be checked for a microchip, if a microchip is found Trading Standards can assist in trying to trace the registered keeper.
  • If within 96 hours (4 working days (Monday to Friday)) beginning when the horse was first detained the owner comes forward the right to detain ceases, subject to the satisfactory tender of reasonable expenses for keep and/or damages (Section 4A).
  • If after 96 hours (4 days) the horse has not been claimed, the ownership of the horse passes to the person detaining the horse, they may then dispose of it, this may include by arranging for it to be euthanased.
  • If the horse is sold and there is a profit after the deduction of costs of keep, sale and damages, the owner if they come forward may recover this from the person who detained the horse.
  • If you detain a horse you are responsible for it’s welfare whilst detaining it.

If you are looking to detain livestock and/or claim the cost of any damage, we would always advise that you seek legal advice first.

The laws about grazing or trespassing of horses