The British Horse Society is a large membership organisation representing leisure riders and those who care for horses. Members of the BHS were increasingly concerned about the prevalence of ragwort in and around land that is used by horses. Ragwort is a wild flower that can poison horses and in some cases lead to their death.
PLMR devised a strategy to engage the membership of the BHS in a campaign to tackle ragwort and protect horses.
The first step was to organise a detailed survey, supported by Defra, which would assess, for the first time, the level of awareness and concern about ragwort in the horse riding fraternity. By promoting the survey through social media, email, national, local and sectoral media and producing a short video, PLMR generated a massive response to the survey with over 14,000 people completing the on-line questionnaire.
PLMR secured a ministerial summit with Defra with 50 representatives of stakeholders in the sector to announce the results of the survey and agree a strategy for tackling ragwort in the future.
As a direct result of the campaign, the BHS has been commissioned by Defra to create a toolkit for local groups to deal with ragwort in their areas. BHS also won high level backing for its proposal to set up Ragwort Action Partnerships with local authorities in rural areas to ensure that ragwort is properly and appropriately controlled and horses are protected from the risk of poisoning. BHS secured coverage for its campaign in local, national and specialist media. Importantly, the BHS’s members saw the organisation established to speak up on their behalf campaigning forcefully on an issue that directly affects the health and welfare of the horses that they care about so deeply.