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
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