If you were dismayed at reading a couple of recent articles which purportedly referenced our views on equine mental health and euthanasia, you are not alone – we were too! Both pieces misrepresented our views on horses losing a companion, when we had made no comment on this. We are proud that we encourage owners to consider equine mental health when assessing a horse’s wellbeing, and were pleased to comment in Horse & Hound on an independent piece of research which suggested that mental well-being should be taken into account – in addition to physical health – when making end-of-life decisions for horses. In our comments we agreed that a horse’s mental state is just as important to consider as their physical health, and we need more research on how to best assess this. We also explained that making end-of-life decisions at the right time is a heavy responsibility for owners to bear, and we welcome any research around this complex and important topic to support owners facing this heart-breaking decision.
Horses are herd animals and in the event that one horse of a pair living together has to be euthanased, their remaining companion may well find it very distressing to be left on their own. There are many ways to help a bereaved horse, and if an owner calls looking to rehome from us in this situation, we will always do our very best to find a suitable companion for the horse or pony left on their own as quickly as possible. Primrose’s story is an example of just one of the many cases where one of our companion ponies has helped a lonely horse after a bereavement and you can watch her story here.
You may have noticed that we’ve been talking about equine mental health more in recent years – it was a big focus at our conference last year, with voices from across the equestrian sector highlighting the importance of equine mental health, and we’re running a series of Welfare Wednesdays webinars this summer looking at equine mental wellbeing (you can find out more about our upcoming webinars as well as catching up on past ones on our Welfare Wednesdays page). We think it’s great news that owners as well as the wider equestrian world are becoming more aware of the importance of caring for our horses’ mental wellbeing just as we do their physical health, and we will continue to raise awareness and share advice and evidence on this really important topic.
Should you need any help with your own situation – whether that be support assessing your horse’s wellbeing or help finding a companion in an emergency – please call us on +441953 497238 in office hours and we will always do our best to help.