what-situations-should-be-reported

What kind of situations should be reported?

Not sure whether to report a horse you’ve seen? Find out which situations should be reported.

Not sure whether to report a horse you’ve seen? Find out which situations should be reported.

All welfare reports are confidential and we would always encourage you to contact us if you are in any doubt as to the well-being of a horse but here are a few specific things to look out for. If it’s an emergency (examples below) we would ask you to call our welfare line – any other welfare concerns can be reported via our form here. Please note the lists below are not exhaustive but are examples of the type of reports we receive. If in doubt, please get in touch with us.

Examples of situations classed as an emergency:

Horses will lie down to sleep so it is important wherever possible to distinguish between a horse which is collapsed and one which is simply lying down.

Where the horse is unable to put one foot to the floor or clearly unable to put any weight on one limb. Horses will often ‘rest’ a hind leg when they’re standing, so it is important wherever possible to distinguish between a lame horse and one which is resting a leg.

This is a serious condition which affects the hooves of the horse and severely affected animals will have a ‘pottery’ walk and may stand in a particular way, leaning back on their heels to relieve the weight on their front legs.

Anything which is obviously causing serious pain or distress to the horse.

This could include caught in fencing, stuck in a ditch, tangled in a tether or anything similar.

Please note: this list of emergency situations is not exhaustive – if the situation you’re concerned about isn’t on the list but you do think it’s an emergency, please give us a call on our welfare line using the details below.

If you think the situation is an emergency, we need to speak with you to see if we have a Field Officer available to attend immediately or advise on other options if not. Please give us a call on:

0300 333 6000

Lines open 8am – 5pm
Monday to Friday

In case of an emergency outside these hours please telephone your local police or veterinary practice for advice.

Situations which are perhaps not immediately life-threatening but may still require prompt attention (please report these via our form):

Key things to assess on an underweight horse are whether the ribs and spine are prominent and if the hip bones are protruding. Horses often lose weight during the winter; a time which coincides with them having long winter coats. This long hair can disguise poor body weight and areas such as ribs can be hidden. One of the more reliable areas to look at is the rear view as horses will drop weight either side of their spine and can appear ‘triangular’ from behind.

If hooves are very long or have severe cracks in them, particularly if this is affecting the way the horse moves, they should be seen by a professional.

If the horse appears lame but can bear weight on the affected limb, please report the situation via our form but if the horse isn’t weight-bearing please do call our welfare line as a matter of urgency.

If the horse has an injury which appears not to have been treated, or has not been treated appropriately, please report this via our form, unless the injury is really severe – i.e. the wound is bleeding profusely or the horse is clearly in severe pain – in which case the situation should be treated as an emergency by calling our welfare line.

This would include concerns about skin conditions, eye problems, laboured breathing, disease, etc., however if the horse appears in severe pain or extreme distress this should be treated as an emergency by calling our welfare line.

If you’re concerned for the welfare of a tethered horse please report it to us via our form. However, if any of the issues listed in the emergency section apply, including the horse being tangled in their tether, the situation should be treated as an emergency by calling our welfare line.

It is acceptable for horses to be without food and water for short periods of time, such as when being worked or to allow for a bucket being knocked over. However, horses not getting sufficient food or water will soon start to show physical signs, in which case we would encourage people to contact us as soon as possible. It can be acceptable for horses to drink from a natural source of clean water, such as a stream or river.

If the horse is being kept in a hazardous environment or manner, such as debris in their field or the fencing appears to be in a dangerous condition, this can be reported via our form. Horses being kept in a dirty stable for long periods/permanently or being kept in unsuitable places, such as vehicles or sheds too small for the individual animal, should also be reported via our form. However, if the horse appears in severe pain or extreme distress this should be treated as an emergency by calling our welfare line.

You can report any non-emergency welfare concerns to us via our form using the button below:

Report a welfare concern

The information you provide in this form will be assessed by our expert team in working hours (Monday to Friday, 8am to 5pm).

Situations which may be better reported via another route:

This should always be reported to the police as a matter of urgency. If there are any physical problems with the horses, we should also be contacted.

Problems about ragwort should be reported to the relevant government department. You can find further information on our website here. If there are any physical problems with the horses, we should also be contacted.

In the event of an unexpected death, it can take some time to arrange removal of the horse’s body and in some cases it is appropriate to allow other herd members to see the body before removal. However, if you are concerned that a horse’s body hasn’t been removed in a timely manner you can contact your local council. If you have concerns about the manner of death or the condition of any remaining horses at the site, we should also be contacted.

You can find guidance on this situation here. However, if there are any physical problems with the horses, we should also be contacted.

Situations which may not seem ideal but are unlikely to present serious issues for the horse’s welfare in most circumstances:

Most horses in the UK can cope without a rug in winter, however if there are other problems we can always be contacted.

Shelter can be natural as well as manmade. Ideally horses should always have access to shelter but in some circumstances lack of shelter can be acceptable. However, if there are other problems we can always be contacted.

Although horses are herd animals and therefore ideally should have the company of others, there are circumstances in which it may be acceptable for a horse to be kept alone. However, if there are other problems we can always be contacted.

At certain times of the year it can be very difficult for horse owners to avoid issues caused by wet weather, however if the field is completely flooded please do contact us. If available, current photos of the situation would be really useful.

If you’re in any doubt about a non-emergency situation, please do report it to us via our form using the button below:

Report a welfare concern

The information you provide in this form will be assessed by our expert team in working hours (Monday to Friday, 8am to 5pm).

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