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Welfare of Equine Survey--2004

Credit given for this article to
May 2004

Blue Cross survey uncovers consequences of poor choices in horse ownership

A new survey by The Blue Cross animal welfare charity has found that a third of horse owners had bought a horse which then proved unsuitable for their needs. It also discovered that nearly half of those who subsequently sold on a problem horse had not sought any help in remedying the situation. 75 per cent of those who did seek help found it either very or quite successful in solving the problems.

Half of the 1000 owners surveyed (496 in total) had either given up or sold on horses at some point in the past. The biggest single reason given was that they had simply outgrown the horse (37 per cent) or needed something more advanced (10 per cent). However 7 per cent cited behavioural issues, while other reasons included “Didn't like him (3 per cent) or Too difficult to ride(6 per cent). Financial reasons accounted for 6 per cent of the total. 31 per cent gave unspecified other reasons as to why they had sold or given up their horse.

Kerstin Alford, director of equine welfare at The Blue Cross said: This survey confirms what we are seeing at our equine centres - an alarming number of people making poor choices when buying a horse, and then making things worse by not facing up to the ensuing problems. It is often only at this point that we are asked to help deal with the consequences.

The Blue Cross can help people make the right choice when selecting a horse or pony. We would much rather be advising horse owners from the start about suitability and then remedying solvable problems, than taking a horse from them that they can no longer cope with.

Over the past decade the Blue Cross has noticed increasing numbers of horses being admitted to its equine welfare centres on behavioural grounds. During 1991 more than 50 per cent of horses were signed over to the charity because of their owners financial or personal problems. Ten years later almost all horses were admitted to the charity because of behavioural problems which owners felt unable to overcome without support. In a significant number of cases these were the result of an owner to horse mismatch originating from the original decision to buy.

In response the charity has developed a range of practical educational leaflets to help owners choose the right horse in the first instance. These are designed so that subsequent difficulties and associated behavioural problems can be avoided, in order to develop a lasting relationship and long-term home for your horse.

To contact The Blue Cross for advice or to order a comprehensive free pack of 19 equine advisory leaflets please telephone 01993 822454, write to The Blue Cross, All About Pets, FREEPOST NAT 4336, Burford OX18 4BR or download them from the website at




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