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It’s no secret that the UK currently has too many horses and not enough homes which can afford them. Those of you in the horsey world have probably come across the rise in abandoned horses. Not only this but the rescue centers are full up. There are two reasons this has really struck an accord with me. The first is that I believe it makes it harder for ex racehorses to find new happy homes. This is because there is either no one who can afford to take on one of these magnificent athletes. Or because they are cheap to purchase they can end up in inexperienced or unknowledgeable hands. During my degree I have really started to understand the importance of breeding quality horses and not just breeding because you can. Poor and over breeding is also contributing to the issue.
Why are there so many unwanted horses?
I feel there are two main reasons for the abundance of unwanted horses in the UK, these are:
- The Economy
The bad economy has hit everyone especially horse owners. Many people who have always had horses found that they could no longer afford them. Similarly, those who recently purchased horses underestimated the financial demands a horse requires. So we are left with too many horses without stable homes.
- Bad Breeding
Too many horses are poorly bred and put together in this country. Some studs have a very poor breeding aim and produce too many average horses. Not only this but many owners put their mares in foal without considering if it has any value as I broodmare. Therefore producing more average looking/performing horses.
Thoroughbreds aren’t the problem
I understand that the thousands of thoroughbreds leaving the racing industry each year doesn’t help this problem. However, these horses are bred to be superior athletes. Although they are bred for speed, they have been proven to adapt well to other disciplines including: polo, point-to-point, dressage, eventing, show jumping, hunting, team chasing and more. Also, stallions and mares tend to stay in the racing industry to be used as breeding stock. So roughly half the population do not need new homes.
Education is key
I believe that the only way to improve the problem of having too many horses and abandoned horses is to educate old, new and potential horse owners before buying a horse I believe everyone should be given a thorough understanding of what it is likely to cost and make sure that they understand these costs. I also think owners need to be educated into the importance of only breeding to produce quality animals. This should help reduce the amount of poor quality animals being bred and hopefully encourage more owners to get involved in re-homing rescue horses. However, majority of rescue centres want many of there horses to go to non ridden homes, which makes them less appealing.
I think it could also be an option to look into the idea of breeding licenses or requirement for all breeding mares, foals and stallions to be registered and graded with breeding societies. This should help improve the quality of horses being produced and reduce the quantity.