Responsible rehoming is a key aspect of horse ownership and helps to prevent horses falling into the cycle of neglect that welfare charities witness on a daily basis.
There are many circumstances which may lead you to rehoming your horse, such as outgrowing them, a change in personal circumstances or owner injury/illness. If you can no longer keep your horse, each option for rehoming should be carefully considered to ensure the best outcome for horse and owner.
The BHS does not advocate ‘free to a good home’ in any circumstance. There will usually be a reason why a horse is being advertised in this way and this will not always lead to a reputable new home for your horse.
Selling your horse
If your horse is fit and healthy selling them may be the best option. It is important to be open and honest when advertising your horse to ensure you find them the most suitable home. Thoroughly vet the potential new owner and the home if possible, to ensure you have done everything you can to guarantee your horse’s future is secure. This may involve:
- Requesting references from a yard manager, a horse owner they have previously loaned from or riding school.
- Ask questions about their experience, their expectations for the horse and what support they will have available.
- Ask to view the new home if feasible - is the environment suitable for your horse and its individual requirements.
- Enquire into the daily routine of the yard so you are confident your horse will adjust to their new environment.
- You may wish to consider offering a trial period to be sure you are selling the horse to the right person. Ensure that all aspects of the trial period are covered in writing, including whose responsibility it is if the horse is ill or injured and who pays for the insurance to cover.
- Stay in contact so you can offer any ongoing support during the transition phase if the new owner requires.
Prior to selling, ensure all vaccinations, farriery and dental checks are up to date and that the passport and microchip registered details are all accurate. If you are a Gold Member of the BHS use our ‘Sale Agreement’ service to help you sell your horse with a greater peace of mind that you have done everything possible to ensure your horse’s future.
For some owners, the thought of selling their horse is too upsetting, as once sold, you will no longer have any control over their future. This can be where loaning may be the better option for you. It is important to remember that you would need to be in a position to take your horse back if the loanee provides notice to end the agreement.
Equine Welfare Charities
The majority of equine charities are only in a position to assist with welfare cases and generally do not have the resources to rehome retired or unwanted horses. Some charities offer a home direct scheme, where the animal will not come into their direct care, but they will support you with rehoming straight to a new owner.
If a charity offers you support with rehoming, ensure they are registered with the Charity Commission and the BHS advise that you also opt for those who are members of the National Equine Welfare Forum (NEWC). This will give you the assurance that your horse will be provided with the care they deserve.
For retired or elderly horses, retirement livery may be a suitable option and will generally require no involvement from the owner. It is strongly advised to thoroughly research and inspect the yard to ensure your horse’s individual needs will be met. Before making this decision, consider if your horse will be fit to travel or whether it’s the right decision to move an elderly horse due to the stress it might cause. Although it is always a very difficult decision, in these instances, euthanasia might need to be considered.
Euthanasia – Have you assessed your horse’s quality of life?
The responsibility lies with all horse owners to ensure that their animal does not suffer and finding them a suitable home if you can no longer keep them is an essential part of this. However, if a horse is elderly, suffers an injury or has a medical condition that is difficult to manage, we would urge horse owners to objectively assess their horse’s overall physical and mental wellbeing in partnership with their vet; especially if an owner feels unable to continue caring for them. For some horses, euthanasia will be a kinder option than trying to find them a new home.
If you feel that you might benefit from talking to someone through the options of euthanasia, contact our Friends at the End team on 02476 840517 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
National Equine Welfare Council- Re-home Responsibly