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BHS Welfare highlights of 2020!

17 Dec 2020


As we look back over 2020 there is certainly plenty to reflect on. Like everyone across the world, we have faced uncertainty and had many challenges thrown at us, but we have adapted, and here are some of our highlights for what we have achieved in extraordinary circumstances.


Before Covid-19 was a concern in the UK, a successful healthcare and education clinic took us off to a flying start with 38 horses attending, of which 15 were castrated. Our clinics aim to break the cycle of indiscriminate breeding by reaching out to owners and communities who may not normally seek regular healthcare for their horses who have been identified as vulnerable. Plans are in place for 2021 and we can’t wait to get back out when it is safe to do so.


It is thanks to our members and donors that we are able to carry out our welfare work and continue our aim of ending needless cases of neglect. Please consider donating to help support our future welfare work.

Following the Government announcement for lockdown, like many other organisations across the UK our headquarters closed, and all BHS staff moved to working from home. The role of the welfare team quickly shifted, and our phone line became the main Covid-19 helpline to support horse owners, equestrian businesses, and coaches through these very challenging times. Our dedicated team were on hand to provide advice, support and reassurance, with extended hours introduced over weekends to ensure anyone who needed it, could access this service. Throughout 2020 our team responded to more than 2120 coronavirus related queries.

Alongside our Covid-19 helpline, we have continued to answer queries on a range of welfare and care topics and offer support and advice where needed. This year our experienced and knowledgeable Welfare Helpline Coordinators have supported over 11,000 people.

Do you need advice? Our friendly BHS Welfare team are available to speak to you.

Call: 02476 840 517
*Lines are open Monday to Thursday: 8.35am-5pm. Friday: 8:35am-3pm.
Calls may be recorded for monitoring purposes

As we moved into the first National lockdown, our Welfare Advisers voluntary work sadly had to be put on hold. However, during the lockdown urgent concerns were responded to by our three employed Field Officers as they expanded their coverage. As lockdown eased, they quickly prioritised other concerns that were pending an assessment. Throughout the period of March – July, a total of 238 concerns were responded to.

In August, our volunteer Welfare Advisers across all Nations returned to their role to support a further 675 concerns. In total this year together, we have processed over 1385 concerns.

In addition to this we have also supported many horse owners through our Friends At The End service. This year has created challenges for us all and with continuous changes to circumstances, many horse owners have had to make the very difficult decision on the future of their equine companion. However, our network of Friends At The End volunteers and staff help to ensure that no horse owner faces this loss alone and have been on hand to provide support to 45 horse owners this year.

FATE Cathy

If you feel you might benefit from talking to someone through the Friends at the End scheme, contact BHS Welfare for impartial, non-judgemental and confidential help and support.

Call: 02476 840 517
*Lines are open Monday to Thursday: 8.35am-5pm. Friday: 8:35am-3pm.
Calls may be recorded for monitoring purposes

Do you have the passion and spare time to become a BHS volunteer?

An integral part of our work is working collaboratively with other welfare organisations to help support horse owners and improve the welfare of horses in their care. 2020 has presented challenges for us all, meaning this collaborative work has been more important than ever, as rescue centres continue to work at full capacity. Our team has been involved in a large multi-agency operation, which saw us passport and microchip 70 horses, (the owner did cover the cost of this) alongside World Horse Welfare, Bransby Horses, Redwings Horse Sanctuary and the University of Cambridge Vet School. An important aspect to this job was the gelding of each of the colts and stallions to prevent further indiscriminate breeding. Through this work and the further support from World Horse Welfare the horse owner is in a much better position to rehome the horses, so they can decrease their numbers and ensure the appropriate care can be given.

Working Collaboratively

Our presence across social media platforms has allowed us to interact successfully with horse owners and the general public, providing educational advice and support on key welfare issues. A major part to this has been through our #WelfareWednesday and additional welfare posts which this year have reached over 4.7 million people. This has been enhanced further through our targeted campaigns.

Our Be Horse Aware campaign was created following increased reports of horses being made seriously ill, suffering significant injuries, and even dying, due to members of the public feeding horses or because of a direct action such as not closing a gate. We aim to raise awareness among the public, about the importance of not feeding horses if they encounter them, as well as some reminders about the Countryside Code. The promotion of this campaign had a significant impact with our Facebook post, which over the Easter Bank Holiday reached 1 million people!

Find out more and download your poster.

Our second Colic Awareness Week was held in October, which involved daily webinars produced and presented by the veterinary team at the University of Nottingham and encouraged people to Pledge to React, ensuring a plan was in place should their horse suffer with colic. Through this campaign 3000 people joined in to watch the webinars and over 1500 people signed up to receive their free Equine Care and Emergency Plan.

REACT logo

On top of our proactive welfare work we also have an amazing network of staff within our team taking on numerous passport applications. Our passport team are also on hand to answer any queries relating to your horse’s passport or current passport regulations within the UK. We have seen a large surge in applications this year following changes to equine passporting laws within the UK, whereby all foreign passports must be Overstamped and retrospective microchipping. This year we have processed over 1,380 passports.

On behalf of the BHS Welfare Team, we would like to say a HUGE thank you to our valued members, supporters and Welfare Advisers, who are an integral part of our work and what we have been able to achieve throughout 2020. This continued support offers a positive contribution to our impact on improving welfare through education and through this the welfare of thousands of horses across the UK.

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