Friends at the End & Euthanasia

June 2021 

‘Friends at the End’ is a BHS initiative designed to make sure that no horse owner has to face the loss of their equine companion alone.

We offer free, confidential support to horse owners/carers/sharers/loaners before, during and after the death or loss of a horse. We can be contacted by phone or email and you will receive support from trained BHS staff or volunteers.

Before 

If you have worries or concerns about the what’s, where’s and how’s surrounding euthanasia, or are unsure whether it is the right decision for your horse, we can help. This can be done via email, phone or face to face (location dependant). We can chat about:

  • Your horse’s current health/behaviour concerns
  • Worries you may have
  • Euthanasia and disposal options
  • How to organise euthanasia and/or disposal
  • How we can offer you emotional support

During 

This is quite often the most traumatic part, so we ensure owners can feel supported throughout this process. We offer:

  • Email and phone support on the day
  • BHS staff or volunteer to be with you physically on the day (location dependant)
  • Holding your horse whilst they are euthanised
  • A cup of tea and a chat afterwards

Afterwards 

We want owners to be able to contact us for support, no matter how much time has passed after the loss of their horse. Get in touch if you want:

  • Confidential emotional support
  • To talk to trained people

Not everyone may want to talk about their emotions, so we tailor this service to each individual. As well as emotional support, we can also offer contacts and practical advice about:

  • Euthanasia options
  • Disposal methods (i.e. cremation, burial)
  • Other bereavement services (i.e for children)

We are also here to support you through bereavement, if you have suddenly lost your horse in an incident. This might have been a dog, firework or road related incident. You are also able to report these incidents to our Safety Team so we can continue to lobby to protect horses and riders.

Our Friends At The End Team

More than 70 volunteer ‘BHS Friends’ have attended training that will help them to support horse owners through the difficult process of saying goodbye. The BHS Friends at the End team can talk to owners about the options available if they can no longer keep their horse for any reason. It doesn’t have to end in euthanasia and if there are other choices they will help find them.

If a horse does need to be put to sleep (for whatever reason), BHS Friends will discuss the choices with owners, from the method of euthanasia to what to do afterwards. Many are willing to be there on the day to offer support, and some will even hold the horse if the owner doesn’t feel able. All BHS Friends are Welfare Advisers who love horses and empathise with what the owner is going through. It might help to know that if you don’t feel able to be there for your horse’s final moments, there is a horse lover willing to be with them.

All of our Friends at the End team have received training from bereavement counsellors, so they have a genuine understanding of the loss and grief that come when a horse dies. They aren’t there to take the place of a counsellor or vet, but they can offer an extra source of support. At the hardest time in a horse owner’s journey, our Friends are available to make it as smooth and straightforward as possible

Contact Information

If you feel that you might benefit from talking to someone through the Friends at the End scheme, contact BHS Welfare on 02476 840517 or friendsattheend@bhs.org.uk and they’ll put you in touch with your nearest Friend.

Friends at the end

With You Every Step of the Way

There are schemes and information available from World Horse Welfare, the BHS and Blue Cross to ensure that horse owners are supported through every stage of equine euthanasia.

To find out more, go to With You Every Step Of The Way

Equine End of Life Service

Equine End of Life Service (EEoLS) is a service specifically for horse owners, who want to find a collector offering reliable and respectful euthanasia and collection options.

The site provides a postcode search, so you can see what service is provided in your area and how much it will cost. The costs are transparent and all the collectors work alongside values of the EEoLS, including treating the body with dignity and providing a service that is respectful and compassionate until the end.

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