Upon looking for resonating April quotes – this from American author Harriet Prescott Spofford (1835-1921) is amongst my favourites:

A gush of bird-song, a patter of dew,

A cloud, and a rainbow’s warning,

Suddenly sunshine and perfect blue —

An April day in the morning.

And there is a sense of newness and hope around at this time of year in spite of the black hole of Brexit and that awful cutting east wind; it’s been dry and the farmers are out in force – sowing, rolling, planting and birthing.

The grass is growing, so we must all be on spring grass watch for our equines; being wary of calorie overload, thinking how we can reconfigure our paddocks while keeping horses and ponies engaged and exercised and finding low calorie alternatives for grass. We have other new ways of working in the horse world too.

The new Equine Animal (Identification) (Scotland) Regulations 2019 came into force on March 28. Below are the six things that owners in Scotland need to know about this.

1. The Regulation brings in retrospective microchipping for all equines in Scotland and we have until March 28th 2021 to ensure all equines are chipped. (This will allow owners to fit chipping in around routine vets visits and save costs.)

2. The deadline for applying for a passport for a foal in Scotland is either the end of the year of the foal’s birth or the end of the month that is 6 months following the date of its birth. (The completed application must reach the passport issuing organisation (PIO) 30 days prior to the deadline.)

3. The regulation introduces ScotEquine as the Scottish Equine Database. The ScotEquine website, www.scotequine.com presents the opportunity for equine owners to sign up and request a ScotEquine card that shows a photo and a unique QR code for the equine.

4. In Scotland, ScotEquine cards can legally accompany an equine on journeys in place of the full passport – unless the passport is needed to verify vaccination or drug data.

5. The regulations are enforced by local authorities and they bring in the provision of fixed penalty notices – you could be fined £80 on the spot if you travel your horse without its passport or ScotEquine card or have an equine with no passport (or chip after March 28, 2021).

6. When you buy a new horse or pony or your horse or pony dies you must return the passport to the PIO for adjustment.

This may seem quite dry but this information falls into the realms of 'Boring but important' in terms of horse care and we all want to keep ourselves and our equines on the right side of the law.

Turning our heads back to things of beauty in keeping with the spring of 2019 BHS Scotland is a partner and active member of the 'Have you got the bottle campaign' where in conjunction with other partners including the Association for the Protection of Rural Scotland we have put our name to a joint letter supporting a Deposit Return Scheme for Scotland asking all MSPs to urge Scottish Government to announce a workable deposit return scheme that includes cans and bottles, both glass and plastic.

We are fully behind the aims of ‘Keep Scotland Beautiful’ who work hard to create sustainability, lower carbon emissions and tidy up litter.

Why is the BHS involved you might ask? – Quite simply (besides the obvious) litter is a major safety and access issue for horses. Fly tipping leads to gates being locked, we all know of equines harmed by broken glass or cans dumped on roadsides or tracks and plastic blowing in the wind can be the quickest way to hit the deck.

We as an industry need to do what we can to tackle these issues – it’s time for a real good spring clean all round!