February 11, 2021 3.24 pm This story is over 17 months old

Stop feeding the horses: Owners angry with Lincoln common visitors

The problem has increased with lockdown walkers

Horse owners in Lincoln are becoming increasingly frustrated at the public feeding the animals as it can cause serious illness, or even death.

Emma Schmitt and her fellow members at the Lincoln Commons Horse Association have seen a spike in the number of people feeding the animals, especially on the West and South Common.

She said it has always been a problem in the city, as well as across England. She believes since the first coronavirus lockdown last year the situation has got worse with more people going on daily lockdown exercise.

This is despite signage having been up on the West and South Common asking people not to feed the horses.

Emma said the signage has since been removed/fallen down, but that she was told the city council are due to put up new signs soon to advise people not to feed the horses.

Soaking up the sunset on West Common in Lincoln. | Photo: Ree

Emma told The Lincolnite the issue has also affected the behaviour of a large number of horses, as it is teaching them to follow people, to hover near the gate, lean over fences and sometimes escape.

The 34-year-old, who owns two horses called Django and Mr Tibbs, said: “People are feeding horses things that they are not built to digest. It is causing the horses to lean over the fences and gates and sometimes they get out.

“It is happening daily. A few people in the area we know are doing it too and not listening when we tell them not to.

“It is frustrating as there is not much we can do about it. We can’t be with the horses all the time and there are always people on the common, so you can never be sure what they are being fed. It is worrying.

“There are some of us with horses on there and we catch people most days. Some people listen and say they didn’t realise and others will turn away, who we catch again a few days later.”

Alison Walling with her horse Ruby.

It is not a new problem in Lincoln either as Alison Walling had a “lucky escape” with her horse Ruby around three years ago.

She said: “She wasn’t herself and was very quiet. The next day she passed a plastic bag, almost whole, it was a really lucky escape.

“People would often take a carrier bag of food onto the common for horses, then drop the bag and run when the horses mobbed them, I saw it happen a few times.”

When asked what the best advice would be to these people, Emma added: “Not to feed them at all and leave it to the owners.

“Even carrots and apples can be bad for some horses. Also, if the horses get too much sugar in them they can get Laminitis which can make them very ill.

“Our main thing to do is to educate people and to point out the problems it can cause.”