Horse lovers are battling their local council over the long-standing tradition of keeping horses tethered on public land near their homes.
Sandwell Council has been employing bailiffs to remove stray horses and charging owners who want them back in Tipton in the West Midlands.
The council has defended its measures, saying it is in the interest of public safety. The local authority estimated there are up to 60 horses grazing or left untethered in Tipton and up to ten roaming free.
Trapped: A pet pony is kept in a front garden in fear of being seized by bailiffs after a council crackdown in Tipton
Several horses have been spotted in a park, which includes a children's play area and is a popular spot with parents and toddlers.
Bailiffs have been issuing enforcement notices to owners which gives people 24 hours to remove their animals or face having them impounded.
Horse owners have defended the tradition and are set to protest against the council by staging a ‘horse drive’.
Locals claim the practice has been passed down through the generations.
It is believed to have begun in the age of the canal when many local men used their horses to tow barges through the Black Country, an area of heavy industry.
Horse owner Steve Bradwich stands next to his horse, one of many horses tethered on land that may be seized by bailiffs
Tradition: Horse lovers in Tipton are battling the council over the local practice of keeping their horses tethered on public land near their homes
Lee Hackett, head of welfare for The British Horse Society, said: 'What's most important is the welfare of the horses.
'Tethering is not an issue when the horses are well cared for and we would support those who want to keep horses in a traditional way.
'The problem is when the horses are being grazed illegally and are allowed to roam loose on the roads - it becomes dangerous for both horses and people. '
Councillor Derek Rowley has said protests by local people would not reverse the council's decision.
Explaining its policy the council said on its website: 'Sandwell operates a strict no grazing policy across all of its Urban Parks and Greenspaces and, in partnership with appointed 'Horse bailiffs', takes appropriate action to remove grazing animals as they are reported.
My lovely horse: Owner Steve Bradwich stands next to his horse, one of many horses tethered on land that may be seized by bailiffs
'A limited amount of formal horse grazing is available at competitive rates within Sandwell Valley Country Park.
'However demand for this is very high and there is usually a waiting list.'
Mr Rowley said on the issue earlier this year: 'We are cracking down on stray and illegally tethered horses - and I hope this warning to owners will serve as notice to remove their animals from council land before the bailiffs are sent in to impound them.
'There is an obvious risk to public safety when horses are allowed to roam free or are tethered on unsuitable land, they also cause damage to land and property.
'We have instructed bailiffs to put up notices on council land and I hope the owners of the horses there will now act responsibly and ensure their animals are moved.'
Hungry horses: The council has been rounding up the animals in Tipton, saying that many are grazing illegally