When ‘free to a good home’ could be fate worse than death

Giv­ing away horses who can­not be rid­den could lead to far more suf­fer­ing than hu­manely putting them down at home

Horse & Hound - - News Insider - By BECKY MUR­RAY

OWN­ERS giv­ing horses as “free to a good home” have been urged to re­con­sider, with eu­thana­sia po­ten­tially a bet­ter op­tion.

Ad­ver­tise­ments for equines who can­not be rid­den ow­ing to age or in­jury can be seen on so­cial me­dia, in some cases as an owner wants to ride but can­not af­ford two, which Bri­tish Horse So­ci­ety (BHS) wel­fare di­rec­tor Gemma Stan­ford said is a “huge con­cern”.

“Horses be­ing given away ‘free to a good home’ more of­ten than not end up in the wrong hands,” she told H&H. “The BHS has dealt with nu­mer­ous wel­fare con­cerns where a horse has been ‘res­cued’ from an ad­vert, but in re­al­ity has moved from one bad sit­u­a­tion to an­other.

“If a horse is el­derly or un­well and an owner is un­able to care for them, we would urge they eval­u­ate its health and well­be­ing. It might seem an eas­ier op­tion to give away or sell cheaply, but think very care­fully what is best for your horse — wel­fare should al­ways be of paramount im­por­tance.”

World Horse Wel­fare’s head of sup­port, Sam Chub­bock, told H&H char­i­ties are strug­gling to find space for wel­fare cases, which leaves no space for own­ers seek­ing to re­home horses they can no longer keep or ride.

“Re­gard­less of the rea­son for need­ing to re­home, we urge own­ers to care­fully con­sider if it is re­ally the best thing to do for

their horse,” she said. “The topic of hu­mane eu­thana­sia is never an easy one, but with so many more horses than good homes, this must be a vi­able op­tion. It is es­sen­tial to con­sider that hu­manely end­ing a horse’s life while they are loved and cared for is far bet­ter than the al­ter­na­tive, which could mean them be­ing passed from pil­lar to post or left to suf­fer.”

Ramsey Porter, who owns 26-year-old geld­ing Tiam, said if a horse is given away, the owner does not know where it will go.

“I’d rather not have a horse to ride than give up Tiam,” she told H&H. “I couldn’t af­ford two at his stan­dard of liv­ery so I can’t get an­other one. The yard owner lets me ride her horse so I can still ride — I’m very for­tu­nate.”

Cathryn Laity put down her eight-year-old geld­ing Reilly ow­ing to is­sues with his health and be­hav­iour, which left her with a bro­ken pelvis af­ter a fall.

“I made the de­ci­sion be­cause with bute and seda­tive he could move nicely and do ev­ery­thing, but he could kill some­one,” she told H&H. “I couldn’t live with my­self if he broke some­one worse than me.”

Blue Cross has re­homed 32 horses through its Home Di­rect scheme, which al­lows own­ers to keep horses while the char­ity seeks homes for them, in­stead of the horse go­ing into a cen­tre.

Re­hom­ing co­or­di­na­tor Emily Lam­bert told H&H: “We’d much rather peo­ple ap­proach us while horses are still healthy, than risk them be­ing passed from pil­lar to post and po­ten­tially end­ing up in a wel­fare-com­pro­mised sit­u­a­tion.”

Own­ers should con­sider whether re­hom­ing is the re­spon­si­ble op­tion

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