Proposals and Amendments by Malta Racing Club

Friday, April 15, 2011, 17:31

Proposals and Amendments to the Envisaged L.N  ……. of 2011. Authority for Transport in Malta Act (Cap 499)

We set out below our comments and submissions in respect of the above legal notice.

We are aware of the consultations which have been held with Karrozzin Owners and their Union and thus our proposals will not cover regulations intended to regulate karozzini.

The Regulations’ original aim was to regulate Karozzini but it ended up covering all other horse categories with certain blanket provisions. This is incorrect. A clear distinction should be made between karozzini and sport horses, leisure horses and horses having traditional and folklore roots in Malta.

Sport Horses are all local trotters, gallop horses and pony horses registered and not registered with the MRC, Polo Horses/Ponies , Show jumpers/dressage horses, pony horses, show horses used in shows, Folklore events such as Blessing of Animals so popular in many Villages in Malta and others .

The equine traditions of the Maltese Islands should be respected and maintained and thus amendments should be made to the Regulations in order to respect these aspects.

As a member of the Animal Welfare Council entrusted with commenting on the Regulations I registered myself as a minority objector to certain regulations and still insist that constraining many horses to remain stabled also constitutes animal cruelty. This said I agree that regulation on the subject should be introduced to control and regulate certain horse and driver/rider behaviour on our roads that should be safe for both other motorists and horse drivers.

As an Equestrian Body that represents most horse owners in Malta we feel concerned with certain blanket regulations that will have a negative impact on our sport and effect the well being of horses .

The following are our suggestions which are aimed at striking a balance and should hopefully be acceptable to the ADT  in that we are giving the solid reasoning behind our proposals . Certain aspects would not be of any concern to the normal man in the street whilst some issues are very important for many horse owners.  Thus we feel that the ADT should consider and introduce the following:

 

PROPOSED ARTICLES 

(1) Article 3 (1) to (10)  are acceptable but we suggest that one should add on the following -

ARTICLE 3 (11) that should read

“ Animal drawn vehicles or animals under saddle shall be exempt from the obligation of licensing and registration if they are being driven on their way to a race track, training field or training racecourse, arena, polo field or other areas where equestrian activities are held.”

ARTICLE 3 (12)

“ All animals held on the lead by a handler shall also be exempt from these regulations whether the animal is harnessed , under saddle or conveying any cart.”

ARTICLE 13 (13)

“ All owners and handlers of animals whether animal drawn vehicles or under saddle must prove that they are registered and affiliated with an equestrian entity so as to be able to invoke the exemption under Art 3 (11) or (12) .”    

 

  

 

 

 

 

Reasoning behind the proposed Articles:

Hundreds of horses are stabled around the race track and have immediate access to it; so any motorist accessing Racecourse Street and its environs is expecting to encounter horses there. 

Owners accessing track to train and race their horses cannot be made to fall under  these regulations when they have trained and races horses for over 140 years. In particular, the Marsa Racecourse area is used by some solely to stable horses after a race and then horses are taken by horse trailers to many parts of Malta. These should not be obliged to register as they still are to be considered as sport horses like everywhere else in Europe .

Horses held on the lead  by a handler are strictly speaking not being driven but led at a walking pace and under the control of a handler with whom they are acquainted. It will avoid horse owners travelling with horse trailers for short distances as most horses are boxed or stabled near to the place that is used for their daily training. The general public and authorities must appreciate that most horses need daily exercise as they can become dangerous if locked up for long periods. So only allowing Sundays and Public holidays for such activities does not address the problem .

Furthermore, our sports tracks, arenas and equestrian areas do not have enough parking facilities or in some cases, no parking facility whatsoever, for the parking of trailers. Besides, the necessary and frequent use of  horse trailers will in turn increase and generate unnecessary traffic on the roads. Our proposals are aimed at  avoiding this where horses are in close proximity or in the particular area.

If a horse is being led close to/ on its way to a racetrack or equestrian arena, it is generally stabled in close proximity to the particular race track or arena .  The Marsa Parking Area, the only one of its kind which is used for horse trailers, has recently been assigned to a different scope without providing horse owners another alternative to date .

Many stables are located in the Marsa , Qormi , Luqa area and thus most horses are led or driven or walked on the lead to the racetrack, polo field or other equestrian arena .

No concern in accepting our above proposals should arise as officers and the general public know that race days and competition days of all equestrian activity is public knowledge and is easily verifiable by ADT officials, wardens and the Police .

It is incorrect to mention only the Marsa area as most people associate the area with horses. There are other areas like Maghtab which also have a concentration of sport horses and leisure ones and the transport of horses in trailers is impracticable even in such areas both for the horses and traffic generation. Many villages have a considerable amount of stabled horses and so the proposals address well the equestrian necessities of the Maltese Islands.

 

  

  

  

 

 

(2) ARTICLE 4(1)  add the following to the proposed article:

“ , unless the horse is exempt in terms of Article 3 (11) , (12) or (13) .”

Proposed Articles

Article 4 (3)

All animals to be used in registered drawn vehicles on local roads  must be microchipped or carry a freeze mark number either from their country of origin in case of imported animals or microchipped by a local veterinarian if bred in the Maltese Islands and such details entered into the Insurance Policy .

Article 4 (4)

Animals exempted under Article 3 (11) , (12) or (13) must be registered within an Equestrian Association to qualify for exemption  .”

Reasoning behind the proposal:

The Insurance cover obligation is legislating  on all category of horses ( horses even those on the lead) . With such legislation, practically all horses will have to remain stabled unless insured. No sports horse in any EU country has such an obligation . So that is why a blanket provision is not advisable ; karozzini are on the streets several hours a day whilst a sports horse generally needs one hour or less regular daily training to keep it in shape and healthy .

Insurance Companies have to date refused or declined to insure horses . Enactment of this draconian legislation as far as Insurance is concerned will result in confining all horses within stables if insurance companies refuse cover . Has ADT conducted a study and does it have advice and written confirmation that all horses besides those that are used in karozzini will actually be insured? .

So our above proposed amendment to Artcile 4 (1) should be acceptable to avoid having a blanket provision which would cause undue hardship in respect of sports horses. 

Even the amount of liability proposed, although this may be fine for karozzini, it is certaintly too much for  sports horses and leisure horse as these are only in the streets for one hour or so daily or on certain days during the week.       

(3) In ARTICLE 11 (2), it is suggested that one should  add the following to the proposed article so as to tie in with the proposed amendments to Article 3:

“unless the horse is exempt in terms of Article 3 (11) , (12) or (13) .”

           

  

  

  

  

  

 

(4) ARTICLE  13

This is a very general article and should be limited exclusively to karozzini . Infact  only karozzini and some xarretti are fitted with brakes!. The article  clearly refers exclusively to karozzini.

Thus whilst the current text of ARTICLE 13  should remain as is, an additional sub-article should be included,  this being ;

ARTICLE 13 (7)

“ The provisions of this article shall be only applicable to karozzini and carriages ( karozzelli ) used for reward or hire  .” 

(5) ARTICLE 22 

Article 22 (2) should be amended to read as follows ;

“Animal drawn vehicles mentioned in  the preceding sub regulation shall not circulate in any road listed in the Fourth Schedule to these regulations except on Saturdays  , Sundays and Public Holidays between 6.00am and 5.00pm from the 1st September to the 31st May, and between 6.00am and 12.00 noon and between 4.00pm and 8.00 pm from the 1st June to the 31st August .”    

The rest of Article 22 should remain as proposed but the following added to it:

“ Provided also that animals falling within the purport of Articles 3 (11) , (12) or (13)  shall be exempt from the effects of Article 22 (2) and (3) but Article 22 ( 1) shall apply  thereto.”

The main reason for the request of extension of times is that certain Blessing ceremonies and shows finish after 11 am.  So horses need some more time to return home after such ceremonies and shows.

The amendement to Artcile 22 as to include also SATURDAY  makes sense as traffic on Saturday is less than on weekdays,  and for most horse owners Saturday is used as shoeing day and many are  used to take horses to the farrier on Saturdays  especially horse enthusiasts and those owning leisure ponies . Most Jumping Dressage Events are also held on Saturdays. Furthermore Polo is practiced and played on Saturday . 

(6) ARTICLE 23  is acceptable but one should add the following ;

“An Association and any recognized body shall have the right to apply for any activity to be held in any road after obtaining a permit in this respect from the Commisioner of Police who shall consult with  ADT , Local Council of the Locality and the Ministry of Sports and/or  Culture prior to issuing such permission.”

As the regulations stand they imply that only those five proposed dates are allowed . This would imply denying our Traditional village Blessing Ceremonies and many Cultural Events which have been long established.  Just to mention a few, Imnarja Show, Bandu tal-Imnarja (one week before Imnarja) , Mdina Festival , Zejt Zejtuna , Casal Fornaro , Birgu Fest,  Traditional Holy Week Processions, San Gwann Karnival Biz-Zwiemel, World Food Day ( Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs ) , Naxxar /Gharghur Parade Karettuni. 

 

One should also bear in mind that most   Cultural Events attracting Locals and Tourists alike, include the participation of horses therein; so a provision allowing such activities is necessary with the public interest and public order being protected through the requirement of  obtaining a permit from the Commissioner of Police who would issue it in consultation with the departments and authorities referred to above .

Associations offer better assurance of good organization, rules, safety observance and animal welfare cooperation with Official Bodies .

In line with the above submissions, one should also amend Fourth Schedule Art. 23 to add   Saturdays , in addition to Sundays and Public Holidays.

(7)  ARTICLE 26  (9) can remain but it is suggested that one should also add on another sub article namely:

ARTICLE 26 (9) ( c) 

“ The Court or Tribunal may determine whether it should apply penalty points or otherwise. “ 

The reasoning behind this proposal is naturally to grant discretion to the Court or Tribunal in respect of whether penalty points should be applied or otherwise depending on the nature and seriousness of the act committed.

(8) ARTICLE 29 (2) just needs a grammer correction

 Word “ prosection” should read “ prosecution”.

(9) Proposal of inclusion of PART X – SPECIAL CONCESSIONS

Article 30 should read ;

“ The crossing of any animal drawn vehicle on any Scheduled Road mentioned in  the Fourth Schedule to these regulations, on any day of the week, shall be allowed as long as the horse is led by hand and due care is taken in respect of oncoming traffic ”  

The reasoning behind this is obvious, i.e. that should not deny the crossing of animal drawn vehicles if due precautions are taken in the manner set out in the proposed article.

(10) Article 31 should read:

“An owner or driver  of several registered horse drawn shall be entitled to register ALL his Registered Vehicle licences ( €20 one time registration for each) under one Special  Annual Licence  to be issued by the Authority , that shall have  a yearly insurance policy  used with a Licence D, various animal drawn registered vehicles coverage and all drivers liability having Licences X or Y or Z  ;   such Licence shall be referred to as A Special Annual Licence “.

Hence  the First Schedule should also be amended to reflect this change:

Special Annual Licence for various registered animal drawn vehicles under one owner .

Annual Fee of €  30.00 .  

This is being suggested as many horse owners have various horse drawn vehicles , even old and vintage maltese carts used in various shows and cultural events and registering various horse-drawn vehicles is  expensive and could be even not affordable for those who use them only occasionally.  Besides every owner can use one cart at a time and be allowed to permit third parties who hold a paid up Licence X or Y or  Z  to use any of the registered animal drawn vehicles.

ADT has given such a concession to vintage car owners which is a good idea.  So it is submitted that this could also be applied for horse owners.ADT is assured of having an insured animal drawn vehicle on the road ,with a distinctive plate as envisaged by the regulations. Licence D holders are owners of sport horses who hold various types of sulkies , jog carts (xrierett) as well as horse enthusiasts ( dilettanti tal-armar).  This type of horse equipment/ vehicles are mainly traditional, and many of the owners are retired horsemen who should be allowed them to register under a group licence or insurance.

This will allow such horsemen to practice their interest in a respectable manner and subject to proper regulation,  and strikes a balance compared to the present unruled situation .

Furthermore sports sulkies are by nature sporting apparell and as such should not fall under these regulations and should  not be obliged to register. NO COUNTRY IN EUROPE imposes regulations on sport sulkies .Modern racing sulkies are being made of carbon fibre and are strictly sports racing gear.    

(11) Article 32 should read

“ In order to be exempted in terms of Regulation 3(11), (12) or (13), all drivers , passengers and riders falling within the Licence D category shall be obliged to  wear a riders’ protection helmet  .” 

Reasoning:  This is important for the protection of such drivers, passengers and riders and all Equestrian Bodies insist on such protective gear.





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