World Horse Welfare (WHW) is urging horse owners to think twice before taking on too many animals, as the charity’s Field Officers are seeing an unprecedented number of welfare cases involving large groups of horses.
The charity's Field Officers have recently seen several examples where they have investigated a welfare concern in response to a call from a worried member of the public, and upon arrival found groups of horses with numbers ranging from anything between six and 150.
Over the past month there have been seven instances where WHW have rescued groups of horses. Almost 20 horses have already come into their care with another 25 due to arrive in the near future.
World Horse Welfare’s Deputy Chief Executive Tony Tyler said: “With our centres already at capacity, we are struggling to find space to meet the current demand. We treat each case very seriously and try to work with the owner to resolve the situation but in some instances the best course of action is to remove a horse or horses from the site if their welfare is compromised.”
World Horse Welfare is finding that horses are often bought in the summer months where most do well turned out in a field. However, when the winter arrives and hay/haylage and concentrate feed needs to be fed, owners simply cannot afford to feed the correct amount required and the horses’ condition deteriorates, and that is when the charity’s Field Officers are asked to attend.
Chief Field Officer David Boyd added: “Owners need to look carefully at how they are going to house their horses during the winter. A field quickly becomes a quagmire and the horse’s health is compromised. If the horse is to be stabled, it’s essential that the environment is kept clean and there is space for the horses to have freedom of movement. Too many owners cram too many horses into a barn and deep-litter the bed badly, leading to injuries and health issues.”
Financial constraints play a part in horse owners having to sell their horses as they can’t afford to look after them.
David goes on to say: “Many horse owners are only looking at the purchase price of a horse and are not looking at the real costs of keeping a horse. In some situations horses are being sold very cheaply or even been given away.“
One thing WHW's Field Officers hear often is that ‘we rescued the horse because we felt sorry for it, or it looked so sad at the sale’. Unfortunately the new owners often find that they cannot cope financially and the horse becomes neglected.
World Horse Welfare is asking that people seriously consider how much it costs to look after a horse. David Boyd says: “Routine maintenance of the horse can all add up, therefore current and potential horse owners need to think about the cost of having the horse’s teeth and feet checked, as well as worming. You also never know when something may happen such as accident or illness which can require extra expense.”
For more information and advice on how to cut the costs of horse ownership without compromising on welfare, visit www.worldhorsewelfare.org/information/cuttingcosts