How to Help Our Horse Friends
How to help our horse friends is important, as we have lots of lovely equine friends, both here and abroad. We have wild ponies in New Forest, Exmoor and Dartmoor. Horses in fields, and horse welfare issues like horse meat and horse racing.
Looking after horses is complicated and expensive. You have to provide a place to live, food, bedding, shelter and ensure toxic plants are removed. And unless exceptional circumstances, horses (and donkeys) need company, so they don’t get lonely or bored.
- Report concerns to World Horse Welfare or National Equine Welfare
- Find good advice at World Horse Welfare (also by phone)
- Blue Cross has tips on toxic plants & fireworks
- Adopt/foster through Blue Cross & World Horse Welfare
- Avoid HRT brands (inc. Premarin) that are made from horse urine (extracted from chained pregnant horses, whose foals are killed).
- Ragfork can remove ragwork in 4 easy steps. Although it supports the habitat of a native caterpillar, it’s lethal to horses & livestock. World Horse Welfare has info on safe disposal.
- Tail Lights (US) attach to tails, to keep horses safe in traffic or at night. They are used by Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
- Eco Bale is a biodegradable horse bedding made from recycled shredded cardboard, which creates no dust/mess, good for allergies.
- Thunderbrook sells organic hay, oats and equine feeds (from a biochemist with expertise in digestion issues).
- Top Stock is made with organic sea kelp. The products (headshaking, detox and maintenance) include full instructions.
- EDIX® Vika Vegan Saddle is made from quality synthetic leather, with matching stirrups and treeless saddle pad (synthetic wool underside). In black, brown and child size. Robert Squared makes vegan leather equestrian boots.
- Champion Plus (insurance) covers vets, accidents, emergencies and liability. Blue Cross has tips on humane euthanasia.
Prevent & Find Lost & Stolen Horses
- Blue Cross has info on horse safety (theft, passports, fire)
- Stolen Horse Register is an online database
- Equine Register can manage your equine passport
The Horse Trust offers a Home of Rest for Horses. Many racehorses are killed at the end of their lives (a good reason to give up gambling). Also don’t accept rides from horses abroad (even in New York, many get injured or spooked by traffic). Charities that rescue ex-racehorses are:
- The Racehorse Sanctuary
- Racehorse Rehoming Centre
- HEROS Charity
- Moorcroft Equine Rehabilitation Centre
Books Your Horse Wants You To Read
- Storey’s Guide to Raising Horses covers health, welfare, insulin resistance, skin conditions, foals & vaccination.
- The Ultimate Guide for Horses in Need is for anyone fostering abused horses with mild behavioural issues. Dr Stacie shows how to handle common medical problems, hoof care & rescue.
- The Horse Nutrition Handbook covers colic, cribbing, Cushing disease, ulcers, muscle breakdown and more.
- Horses in Translation teaches the four Gs of Horse Speak: Greeting, Going Somewhere, Grooming and Gone!
- Osteopathy and the Treatment of Horses is written by three experts in their field, with clinical information.
- The Ultimate Guide to Caring For Horses for Kids covers anatomy, housing, bathing, feeding, grooming, safety and how to speak horse!
- The Horse Owner’s Guide to Toxic Plants is a reference book. A little chopped apple is usually okay for horses, but never feed strange horses as too much from different people can give them colic. Pick up windfalls to avoid animals over-feasting.
- Life Lessons from the Heart of Horses is a book on how much we can learn from our equine friends. Horses are sensitive creatures with hearts ten times larger than humans, and more to share with us, than meets the eye. These poignant short stories about the trials and tribulations of befriending horses by equine expert Kathy Pike, brings you on a healing journey. Learn lessons that a wild horse taught her, how horses teach humans in so many ways, and personal insights on the dynamics of a herd of horses.
Shetland Rescue is a Merseyside sanctuary that rescued a Shetland pony from a horse market. Focused on elderly, abandoned and unwanted animals, Diane had to live in a caravan at first, after selling her house to buy a plot of land. Today many volunteers offer local land.
How to Help a Tethered Horse
Have you ever been upset seeing a horse tethered on a roundabout, often alone and eating grass, and sometimes being spooked by traffic? At present, horse tethering is legal, so although often unkind, you usually can’t do much about it. The problem is also that by complaining of ‘legal practices’, you could send tethered horses underground, and then horses could be tethered out of sight, which could be even worse. Horses are also social animals, but tethering animals nearby each other, could lead to accidents or entanglement.
The best place to come from this, is from a place of empathy. Often people who love their horses but have no land or money, are finding places so their horse has some grass. So having a go often is not the best idea. A much better solution would be to club together to find some nice land that is not being used, and offer this to the horse guardians.
Having said that, many horses do suffer when tethered, and as most councils won’t fund animal welfare inspectors, often horses are not found until the RSPCA get involved. Break the Chain is the national campaign to change the law. At present, authorities can’t act. And even if they do, if there is no field for horses to go to, horses could end up at the abattoir. We have a real rich-poor divide with horse guardians. Looking after horses is costly and expensive, and finding land is very hard, if people have no money and already have horses in their care.
The British Horse Society has info on whether the tethering you see is legal or not, and you can phone up for advice, if concerned. As mentioned above, there is little legally that you can do, and ‘sending tethering underground’ is not good. But they have useful info. For instance, horses are sometimes grazed for a few days before moving on, and often drinking water is provided by someone visiting, as buckets can get knocked over (but obviously horses do need access to fresh drinking water, especially in warm weather when the grass is not wet). They suggest using tyres to secure water buckets.
Horses should also never be tethered near trees, as they could get caught up and near well-drained areas, so there is no risk of danger in heavy rain. You can also find more useful info at RSPCA and Redwings Horse Sanctuary (they again raise concerns that not helping those in marginalised communities that often tether – like gypsy/traveller communities) could send the practice underground.