Charities fear that many horse owners are neglecting to plan for their horse’s death.

Horses are suffering by being kept going too long, or are being passed on to sometimes inappropriate homes at the end of their lives, they say.

Now the National Fallen Stock Company (NFSCo) — a not-for-profit business set up by Defra for the collection and disposal of dead farm animals — has launched a survey to find out if horse owners are aware of the options available for their horses.

“Owners become emotional and may not be able to weigh up their options with a clear head,” said a spokesman for the NFSCo.

“We hope to find out if owners have considered their options in advance and what means they have used or would choose.”

The NFSCo service is available for horses, too, but is rarely used.

The survey is open to all horse owners.

The British Horse Society (BHS) has also found a glut of owners unprepared, either mentally or financially, to put their horse down when the time comes.

In January, the BHS launched Friends at the End, a network of 100 welfare officers around the country trained to advise owners considering euthanasia.

Lee Hackett from the BHS said they have been inundated with calls from the public asking for help — so much so that they will be training more of these “friends”.

“We know there are horses out there that are being kept alive longer than is ideal because their owners cannot bear to think about it,” he said.

“Putting a horse to sleep can also be expensive.”

To take part in the survey, go to https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/M6GQNBR

This news story was first published in Horse & Hound magazine (21 March 2013)