Our welfare advisers investigate reported welfare concerns and act as an advice point for all horse owners. As a result, they have improved the lives of literally thousands of horses.
- Knowledgeable about horse care and welfare with extensive practical experience (equivalent to BHS Stage 3 Groom as minimum)
- A great communicator, diplomatic, sympathetic, able to have difficult conversations and positively influence people
- A passionate educator with the skills and knowledge to help local equestrians stay current with their horse care
Welfare Advisers help to prevent welfare concerns through advice, support and education, building up relationships with their local equestrians so people feel comfortable asking for support when they need it. Many welfare cases result from lack of knowledge or understanding rather than wilful cruelty. Diplomacy is paramount, nobody wants to hear they have let their horse down or worse, caused them pain. As you can imagine Volunteer Welfare Advisers are very compassionate people, but this role can take an emotional toll. It is important that you know when to stop, when to remove yourself from a situation and when to take a breather.
Some Welfare Advisers choose to take additional training in our ‘Friends at the End’ scheme. These volunteers support local owners who need to make end of life decisions for their horses.
The BHS divides the UK into 13 regions, which in turn are divided into counties. Each county has a different number of Welfare Advisers depending on several factors including its size, the number of horses within its boundaries and the willingness of people to volunteer for the role.
All Welfare Advisers are experienced horse people. They are fully trained specifically for their welfare work and carry an official BHS identification card.
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 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 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 adviser will take no immediate action, but continue to monitor the horse(s) in question.
- The 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.
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.