The British Horse Society has a network of nearly 200 Welfare Advisers throughout England, Wales and Scotland.
A very important part of the work of the BHS is that done by our volunteer Welfare Advisers. These advisers investigate reported welfare concerns and act as an advice point for all horse owners. Through the work of our Welfare Advisers, the lives of literally thousands of horses have been improved.
BHS National Structure
The British Horse Society divides the UK into 13 regions, each has its own Regional Welfare Adviser (RWA). The role of the RWA is, among other things, to oversee and co-ordinate the welfare work that goes on within their region.
Each BHS region is divided into counties, with each county having a different number of Welfare Advisers. The number of advisers in a county will depend upon several factors including its size, the number of horses within its boundaries and the willingness of people to volunteer for the role.
Our highly experienced RWAs act as a constant source of guidance and support for the Welfare Advisers. The BHS has nearly 200 advisers, which means that we have superb nationwide coverage and are usually able to respond to reported welfare concerns promptly.
All Welfare Advisers are experienced horse people and are fully (and regularly) trained specifically for their welfare work by The British Horse Society. All advisers carry an official BHS identification card – anyone who is not able to produce an identification card should not be considered as acting on behalf of the BHS.
The Role of BHS Welfare Advisers
When a welfare concern is reported to us, the relevant Welfare Adviser will visit the horse(s) in question and assess the situation. What happens next will depend on the outcome of this first visit:
- In serious cases the Welfare Adviser will liaise and work with enforcement organisations (such as the local authority) or other welfare charities (for example, World Horse Welfare or the RSPCA) to ensure that swift and appropriate action is taken
- Where the Welfare Adviser feels that the horse’s welfare is compromised, but not severely, they will attempt to locate and contact the animal’s owner. The British Horse Society is unique in being able to work with owners over a long period of time to provide support and education to ensure the horse’s welfare
- In some cases, the Welfare Adviser will take no immediate action, but continue to monitor the horse(s) in question
- The Welfare Adviser may feel that no action is needed. While this may not please the person who reported the concern, it is important to remember that Welfare Advisers are fully trained in both the law and acceptable standards. People keep horses in many different ways; we may not agree with some of these, but this does not mean that welfare is being compromised
Welfare Advisers are also an information point for any owner who has questions about their own horses or who needs support through a difficult time. They are also an excellent source of local contacts, and therefore may be able to put owners in touch with each other.
There are some restrictions on what a BHS Welfare Adviser can do. For example, as we do not have a rescue centre, the BHS cannot take on rescued or unwanted horses and ponies. However, our advisers will have contact with other organisations and local individuals, so they may be able to help out when an emergency home is needed.
Concerned about a horse? Find out how to report a welfare concern.
If you think that you would be interested in becoming a BHS Welfare Adviser, find out how to volunteer.