Vice-Patron of The British Horse Society (BHS), The Princess Royal visited a BHS Healthcare and Education Clinic on 30 September, which is central to a welfare education campaign where advice and support is provided to horse owners who have horses that are vulnerable or at-risk of breeding indiscriminately.
The clinic, run by the BHS in collaboration with British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA) plus support from Zoetis and several other equine charities, was hosted at Ashford Cattle Market in Kent.
The role of The BHS is to improve welfare through education with the aim of trying to prevent horses having to be rescued. With equine rescue centres at full capacity, the BHS Healthcare Clinics provide an important measure to help break the cycle of neglect and improve the welfare of horses. These clinics provide a great opportunity to offer education, advice, and support on a huge range of issues and allow BHS experts to engage with and build lasting relationships with people in the local communities, many of which would previously not have communicated with authorities or equine charities.
Photo Credit: John Stroud Photography
Britain’s equine overpopulation crisis is the root cause of many equine welfare problems. The BHS aims to decrease the number of foals born due to indiscriminate breeding where the foal’s future welfare is potentially at risk. With the support of BEVA Trust volunteer vets and an extensive list of supportive organisations, the Healthcare Clinics offer horse owners general health checks, castration, hoof care, worming and dentistry, at a reduced cost. This is not an open event and to create the largest impact support is targeted in welfare hotspots around the UK. The BHS Welfare team offer education, advice, and support on a huge range of issues, including ensuring horse owners are compliant with Equine ID legislation by offering a passport and microchip service.
Gemma Stanford, Director of Welfare, said: “We are thrilled that our Vice-Patron, HRH The Princess Royal, could join us at this Healthcare Clinic to see first-hand how we are able to support horse owners. We were pleased to see 21 horses at the clinic at Ashford Cattle Market. With a growing number of horses in rescue centres and being abandoned, this is a proactive approach to the problem. All horses received a health check on the day, with many of them having never been seen by a vet before. The BHS believe prevention is better than cure and we promote horse welfare by educating, advising, and supporting horse owners and carers, to prevent welfare issues. Horses are suffering because we do not have enough knowledgeable and experienced owners to look after them.”
Julian Samuelson, BEVA Trust Chair said: “Our BEVA Trust volunteers show a real passion for horse welfare with their support for these clinics and their willingness to donate their time is very admirable. By providing health checks, castrations, passports and micro-chipping, and also dental health checks and farriery when possible, we are able to make a real, practical difference for horses identified to be in need. We are immensely proud that HRH The Princess Royal has shown such an interest in our work and her level of engagement and understanding is truly impressive. We thank her for taking the time to visit our clinic today.”
Further support was provided by Zoetis who provided all the wormer advice, BHS Welfare Advisers, Bransby, Redwings, The Blue Cross, The Donkey Sanctuary, RSPCA, World Horse Welfare, and farrier Phillip Rigolli.
The BHS Healthcare Clinics were launched in 2015 in response to the national horse crisis. The BHS has held 30 clinics since they were first launched, seeing 1399 horses with 643 of those being castrated.