Breeding horses: do you need to breed?

We launched our Need to breed? initiative to spread the word about the impact that breeding just one foal can have.

We launched our Need to breed? initiative to spread the word about the impact that breeding just one foal can have.

We take in about 300 neglected horses every year, every single one of which started life somewhere. While the choices of responsible horse owners can seem far removed from the terrible cases we deal with daily, we’ve launched our Need to Breed? initiative to spread the word about the impact that breeding just one foal can have. 

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When considering whether to breed with the intention to sell a foal/young horse, assess what the demand is for horses now and what the demand may be for horses when they are older and how this will affect their life if they can’t be sold on. During the COVID pandemic, many rescue and rehoming centres saw an increase in the number of horses being rehomed. However, with recent cost of living increases, we are now starting to see a similar picture to pre-COVID, where there are more horses than available homes.

Undoubtedly there are several different groups contributing to the breeding of horses in the UK. Unfortunately, this makes it all too easy for each group to blame the others and take no responsibility, and therefore no action, themselves. It is vital that every group acknowledges their contribution to the problem and takes steps to rectify it. 

It is very easy to think that people who only breed a small number of foals, perhaps one a year, or even just one in their lifetime, are having very little impact. This just isn’t the case. With thousands of people all doing the same, this adds up to a huge number of extra horses every year. 

Whilst all sectors should take steps to reduce their breeding, it is important not to underestimate the contribution of individuals – those people who perhaps breed because they have a much-loved mare, because they want the experience of producing a youngster, or to give an out-of-work mare a role. Whilst having a foal may be very appealing, do any of these reasons really justify bringing yet another horse into an already crowded country, particularly when no one can genuinely guarantee a horse a secure home for life? 

If you or anyone you know is thinking about producing a foal, please stop and think. Do you really need to breed?  

Need to breed?

Need o breed leaflet

Our need to breed leaflet outlines: 

  • Potential consequences to horses in the UK due to over breeding 
  • Reasons why people choose to breed their horse(s) 
  • Common horse breeding myths explained 

You can request posters and copies of the leaflet for your yard by emailing

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