Regiment at risk over new horse laws
PROPOSED changes to animal management laws threaten the future of the city’s Light Horse Regiment, the group’s lead rider says.
The new laws would prohibit horses on blocks less than 4000sq m and would allow owners on blocks between 4000 and 10,000sq m, zoned rural or rural residential, to keep a maximum of two horses – pending council approval.
Erin Mcguffie has ridden with the regiment for years, keeping its history alive in honour of her great-grandfathers who served during WWI.
She recently took over the group when veteran Charles “Bushy” Joyner stepped down after championing the tradition for decades
Ms Mcguffie, who also runs a riding school in Kelso, said the proposed changes would affect anyone who owned horses or livestock across Townsville and would “basically destroy the future” of the regiment.
“The Light Horse (Regiment) really has a strong history and I think that needs to be kept alive,” she said
“Anyone that lives on smaller properties, especially in Wulguru, Bluewater or out in Kelso … they are going to lose their horses.
“It is not how it should be because Townsville has always been a rural city.”
If the new laws come into play, registered animals already approved would not be affected, but residents could not replace those animals if they died or were sold and would have to follow the new criteria. The proposed laws also introduce new regulations about how owners must keep their animals which would dictate fence, stable and other new requirements.
Ms Mcguffie said the changes would have a “mountain effect” as they slowly affected the brigade, racing industry and others.
“Having horses, as it is, can be quite hard … all these extra laws are just going to make it too hard and people will get to a point where they say ‘well what is the point of having a horse’,” she said.
“There is a subclause that says if that animal dies you can’t actually replace that animal … what happens for people who have smaller properties?”
The Light Horse Regiment has struggled over recent years, dropping down to just four members last year but Ms Mcguffie said membership was up again in 2021. She said the city had a big veteran community which relied on horses for their rehabilitation, making loss of livestock “a major blow”.
Councillor Maurie Soars said it was “vital” animal management laws keep pace with growth and change in Townsville. He said last year more than 1500 complaints were made to council about excess animals or barking dogs.
“Council staff have proposed a number of amendments to the current laws which they believe strike the right balance,” he said.
“Now is the time for the community to have their say and have their voices heard. The final version of the new animal management laws will be driven by the community.”
Residents and organisations can provide feedback on the proposed changes through the Have Your Say Townsville website (https://haveyoursay.townsville.qld.gov.au/).
Or can attend public information sessions to talk about the changes and provide feedback on Magnetic Island on October 12 or on October 13 at the Mayoral Reception Room from 6-8pm at Walker St.
Consultation closes October 22. on