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Worrying Rise in Abandoned Horses

26 January 2015

UK - During the first week of 2015, Redwings Horse Sanctuary received 31 calls from owners asking for the charity to take in their horses, a 40.9 per cent increase on the same period in 2014 and totalling 39 equines.

Similarly, welfare call figures for 2014 have revealed a total of 1241 calls, of which 45.9 per cent were from owners asking for help securing an alternative home for their horses.

In light of the current equine welfare crisis and with Redwings operating at maximum capacity, the charity is eager to urge owners and potential owners to understand the personal and financial commitment of horse ownership – the key message being “if in doubt, don’t”.

“We are working hard to try and educate potential owners as to what is involved in taking on a horse,” commented Redwings’ Operations Manager Rachel Angell.

“Owning a horse can be hugely rewarding but it is also a huge responsibility. We therefore encourage owners to evaluate the impact of horse ownership on all areas of their lives and to ensure they plan for the unexpected – a redundancy, loss of rented land, an illness, and injury to either owner or horse. Sadly, an ‘it won’t happen to me’ attitude can have serious welfare implications."

Redwings is also eager to highlight the issue of first-time horse owners “rescuing” horses from markets where they can be bought for less than £10 – a devaluation of equines that has resulted from overbreeding.

“This low price tag continues to attract novice owners who are unaware of the ongoing expense and responsibility of lifelong horse ownership. However, in our experience, despite believing they’re “rescuing” a low value horse, the owner may then in turn go on to neglect or abandon the horse themselves as they cannot meet the costs of daily care nor sell the horse on”.

The emphasis on lifelong care is key to Redwings’ message to horse owners. Indeed, the Sanctuary has recognised a rise in calls to its welfare line to take in veteran or retired horses, which may be attributed to a lack of value placed on those who can no longer be worked or increased veterinary costs associated with old age.

“The influx of welfare calls during the first week of 2015 is a concern and we hope it is not a reflection on things to come,” concluded Rachel. “But we are proactive in providing practical advice to owners and educating potential owners as to what is truly involved in horse ownership. Above all else, we would want to stress the need for potential horse owners to think before they purchase and prepare for every eventuality.

“If you are confident that you’re able to provide for a horse, consider taking on a rescue horse from a charity like Redwings. We can help you find the right horse or pony for you and support you as you get to know your new friend, and you are also helping make space for us to rescue more horses in return.”

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