DIFFICULTIES in travelling equines between Northern Ireland and Great Britain are yet to be resolved, despite a recent meeting with elected representatives.

Protestors had called for immediate action from the government to resolve this situation and, as a result, a meeting was scheduled and held on Tuesday, March 19th. They had hoped to speak with Secretary of State, Chris Heaton-Harris, however he was not available to attend.

Felim Crane from Co Fermanagh, who buys and sells equines, told The Irish Field: “We were invited to a meeting at the Northern Ireland Office in Belfast regarding the movement of Equines and Livestock across the Irish Sea since the implementation of the NI Protocol. Carla Lockhart MP and the Minister of State for NI, Steve Baker and a representative from the Ulster Farmers Union were there.”

Mr Crane was accompanied by James Gault on behalf of the equine sector, while the cattle, sheep and poultry sectors were also represented.

“We all voiced our concerns and what we think a solution could be for each sector. For equines, I suggested a seven day return policy, where the Export Health Certificate should not be required, if you are going to a show and returning within seven days. The Minister listened and did seem genuinely interested,” Crane said.

“We will give the Minister a chance to respond to our suggestions before we decide our next move.”

In the meantime, amateur rider Mrs Shirley Anderson has been in communications with DAERA to seek clarification on a number of issues she has faced when travelling to Great Britain with her horses. In the latest response to her, dated March 28th, 2024, DAERA’s representative pointed out that their internet page has been updated ‘to advise that the policy in relation to transport of horses to shows is currently under review’.


Some additional points have been raised by concerned equine owners.

The difficulties in completing the paperwork, and indeed in knowing what paperwork is required for travel, are impacting on a broad range of amateur riders, including Pony Club members, who would like to travel over to championships on the mainland; their parents are being put off from travelling and some have had negative experiences on the mainland, due to different rules applying there.

Another major problem with the implementation of current regulations is animal welfare, as after a long journey to get to Belfast port from the UK, animals can be kept waiting for hours at the Border Inspection Post.

“The paperwork is difficult for lay people to do; if a number or letter is written incorrectly, an animal can be turned away and put back onto the next boat [returning them to Great Britain]. This is not only costly for the owner, but also means the animals are on the trailer for multiple hours,” proprietor of Lessans Riding Stables, Philippa Auret told The Irish Field.

“The rules are inadequate. The blood test is for a disease that hasn’t been in the UK or Ireland for many years. This affects people’s social lives and their businesses; we are losing trade and it is increasing costs of feed and veterinary pharmaceuticals, which will also impact welfare long-term - this shouldn’t be necessary for travel between Northern Ireland and the mainland.”

If you have been affected by the Irish Sea Border when travelling your horse or pony, please contact us at horseworld@theirishfield.ie