Field Officer Nick White
Harry Hall spoke to World Horse Welfare Nick White about his role as a Field Officer for the charity:
I have been a field officer for eleven years, prior to that I did over thirty years in the Metropolitan police as a mounted officer, competitor, public order and equitation instructor, I also formed and ran the Equine crime unit. My job as a World Horse Welfare Field Officer involves investigating welfare concerns reported mainly through our welfare line and to check on World Horse Welfare horses rehomed through the Rehoming Scheme. I cover six counties including London and in addition to my daily duties I advise others, including the police, on matters such as straying horses on the road and the Control of Horses Act 2015. On a daily basis I investigate allegations of equine suffering and try to resolve instances of suffering by offering realistic solutions and advice to horse owners. In deliberate or repeated cases of neglect or cruelty I will work with other organisations to undertake a prosecution, this is usually as a last resort.
I find London a fascinating location with its ever-changing sights, sounds, colours and smells coupled with my involvement in the on-going world famous ceremonial occasions supported by The Royal Mews, The Kings Troop R.H.A. and The Household Cavalry. Rotten Row with its riding horses, the city farms, the trotters and the trotter’s horses kept all over London many living under the railway arches or in back street yards. Then there are the thousands of horses in and around the City airports, on the London flatlands and marshes many grazing illegally, some tethered on tiny grassless areas or on allotments. I have even found them chained to the wheels of cars on concrete front drives next to the fast running Bath Road near Heathrow airport plus in cages in back gardens with an increasing number kept in the multicultural areas of London. With such a high population and density of horses kept in built up areas anything can happen and it usually does.
No two days are ever the same, some are exciting, some are sad. Most days I have to make contact with a horse owner somewhere, it is important to establish owner contacts and maintain a good relationship with each one of them. A call about a sick or injured horse may come in when I am miles away and out of that area but a telephone call direct to the known owner can often resolve the problem immediately. If I allow these relationships to break down the job becomes much harder to carry out. My job of field officer for World Horse Welfare is more than a job it is a way of life, rarely a day goes by without someone needing help or meeting someone to share a story or a memory with. No matter what I have done in the day, when I get back to the office that night it all has to be recorded and typed up in full on a report, I find it’s best to do this when the case is fresh in the mind.
The most rewarding part of the job makes up for all the other difficulties, in particular when I see the horses I have removed rehabilitated and doing well in their new homes. I enjoy working as a team and get the opportunity to do this on some of the round ups or link days working with other charities and other organisations. There are many sides to the job of being a field officer, the horses are one side of it but there are lots of people out there struggling and trying hard against the odds either financially, or against the weather or having got older and maybe not coping so well, some who own old horses which they have cared for every day for many, many years now finding themselves criticised. There is as much work to be done supporting people with help and encouragement as there is to be done with the horses. The one thing I have found most beneficial is finding time in my day to spend with them, time to share a story about a mutual acquaintance perhaps or just offer a bit of help, a telephone number to call in on. It all goes a long way to making subsequent visits easier, more effective and improving conditions for the horse.