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Reporting a Welfare Concern

The British Horse Society and our dedicated network of 200 volunteer Welfare Officers work hard to promote the prevention of neglect, cruelty and harm to horses.

Our Welfare Officers provide support, advice and education to horse owners to try and remedy problems before they become too serious. In more serious cases we work with partner organisations to reach the best possible resolution for the horses and people involved.

How to report a welfare concern
Information needed for a BHS Welfare Officer to attend a welfare concern
Confidentiality and your details
Response to a concern
Reporting a concern at a Riding School

How to report a welfare concern

If you have personally seen a horse(s) that you are concerned about, please contact the Welfare team on 02476 840517 or email

The office is open from Monday-Thursday from 8.35am-5pm and on Fridays from 8.35am-3pm.

As a charity, the BHS does have limited resources and we unable to offer an out of hour’s service. If you wish to report a genuinely urgent welfare concern outside of office hours, please contact the RSPCA on 0300 1234 999. 

Please do not report welfare concerns to us through social media.

If you have already reported your concerns to another welfare organisation and they have confirmed that they will be investigating, please do not contact other organisations and charities. Multiple officers attending the same horses is a waste of resources and could potentially jeopardise the outcome of the case.  

The Welfare team can become very busy, so if you are not able to speak with us initially, please leave a message with your name and contact number. A member of the team will aim to contact you by the end of the day. Your details will remain strictly confidential and we never reveal the identity of those who report horses to us.

Unfortunately, we can't take calls about second-hand information, including content seen on Facebook, so please only contact us if you have personally seen a horse(s) of concern. It is very important we obtain specific details from those who have witnessed a cause for concern.

Throughout the UK, horses are managed and kept in many different ways. Sometimes we may not agree with the way in which a horse is kept but if its needs are being met and the horse is not suffering, then we are unlikely to be able to take any action. Please see What is a Welfare Concern? for some of the reasons that horses should be reported to us. If, having read this, you’re still unsure whether you should be worried about a particular horse, please contact the Welfare team and we will be happy to discuss your concerns further.

Reporting a concern at a Riding School

If you have a welfare concern for a horse(s) at a riding school, the relevant Local Authority should be notified. In order to operate, riding schools have to be inspected and issued a licence by the Local Authority as stipulated in the Riding Establishment Acts 1964 and 1970. Any breach of the terms of the licence will need to be investigated by the Local Authority. For this reason, the BHS Welfare Department are not able to respond to any concerns at riding schools. If the riding school is BHS Approved, the Approvals Department can be contacted on 02476 840509 to make a complaint. Before you begin a complaints procedure against a riding school, you should consult the BHS Complaints Procedure document.

Information needed for a BHS Welfare Officer to attend a welfare concern

In order to ensure a BHS Welfare Officer is able to respond to a report, we need the following information:

•    Details of why you are concerned
•    Horse(s) details – number, colour, sex (if known), age (if known)
•    Name of owner and/or landowner (if known)
•    The location of the horse(s). The more information you can give us the better, even if the precise address and postcode is unknown. Please try to give additional local information such as nearby main roads and landmarks.
•    Photos are helpful if you can take some pictures of the horse(s) safely and without trespassing. These can then be emailed to with the other details required.

Confidentiality and your details

When reporting a concern, we do ask you to provide your first name and a contact telephone number. We guarantee that your details will remain strictly confidential and under no circumstances will they be passed on to the owner of the horse(s) or any other third party. Your contact details are required for several reasons:

1)    When the case is assigned to a Welfare Officer, they may need to speak to you to get further details. For example, the Officer may need to clarify the location of the concern if they have a problem finding the horse(s).
2)    If you would like to receive feedback, the BHS Welfare Officer will contact you following a visit. Please note, due to the complex nature of some cases and time needed to resolve specific issues, feedback may not be instant but it will be provided at the earliest opportunity.
3)    On rare occasions we may not have a Welfare Officer available to respond to your concern and a member of the team at BHS HQ will need to advise you of this.

Please be aware that if you decide not to leave your contact details we will not be able to provide you with any feedback.

Response to a concern

All BHS Welfare Officers will endeavor to respond to a concern as soon as is possible. This will normally be within one and six days although urgent cases will of course be prioritised. It may not be immediately obvious that an Officer has been to the horse’s location; there are a number of steps that have to be taken when responding to a concern and in many cases it is unrealistic to expect improvements overnight. Sometimes horses will need to be monitored to ensure that any advised improvements are undertaken within a specific timeframe.

In certain cases, our Officers may have to call on the assistance of the RSPCA or other organisations. The BHS does not have the resources or facilities to take horses into our care. In common with most other charities, the BHS does not bring animal welfare prosecutions; instead, we work with the RSPCA and local authorities who have the expertise needed to ensure the greatest chance of a successful prosecution.
BHS Welfare Officers respond to around 2,000 welfare concerns annually. Thank you to everyone who takes the time to contact us and raise concerns.    

We can only continue our welfare work if we have the funds to do so. Help us do more for horses - please consider making a donation to the BHS or joining us.

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