I WAS interested in Neil Jones’ letter contesting the British Horse Society statement that ragwort was responsible for a significant number of horse deaths per year.

I read the following extract from a government website, which published a Friends of the Earth Briefing Paper on the subject in 2016: “Confirmed incidences of poisoning are very rare indeed and are almost always associated with horse welfare cases where the animals are not being properly looked after.

“Horses do not freely choose to eat live ragwort: most risks arise through dried ragwort in hay and overstocking along with insufficient supplementary feeding.”

As a volunteer in a conservation charitable body dealing with ragwort removal, I sought the opinion of a manager of a government controlled site where we worked, and he stated that whilst horses will eat around a ragwort plant in the field, they will carefully avoid the plant itself.

Only in cases of feed deprivation will they be forced to eat it.

Similarly, ragwort being found in baled hay is not a problem to them, as it will be avoided, unless all other hay has been consumed.

This would have resulted from extremely bad feed control on the part of the owner.

My conclusion? That a significant benefit to wildlife and to plant pollination in particular is being lost every time ragwort is culled.