The devastated owner and groom of a horse who was put down by mistake as a result of confusion over his identity want to make sure “this never happens again”.
The owner of two horses kept with Louise Allan’s retired former racehorse Round The Bend had arranged for them both to be put to sleep on 13 September.
But their owner’s mother was the one present at the yard, in Rutland, when the vet arrived, and she presented him with the wrong horse — Round The Bend instead of one of her daughter’s horses.
The vet put the healthy horse to sleep, leaving the one who should have taken his place in the field the three had shared.
Louise, who lives in Newmarket, found out two days later.
“To get that phone call was just appalling,” she told H&H.
“The [owner’s mother] is saying she’s very sorry, but nothing can change things. It just shouldn’t have happened.”
Louise said 25-year-old “Mr B” and the other horse were both bay, but that is where the similarities ended, and that her horse was the only one of the three who was wearing a rug.
“How did she not recognise her [daughter’s] own horse?” she asked.
“I spoke to the vet and he said they don’t have to see passports [in this situation]. He was given the two horses and he put them down.
“Something needs to change. If you’re having a horse put down and it’s not an emergency, the vet should have to ask for identification. There should be a code of practice that says vets need to see passports.
“The whole story is so horrific. I’d had the horse since he was six; he was my father’s, who’s now deceased. He was loved and healthy; he was a special horse. There’s no way he should have been put down.”
Christina Arling, who worked for Louise when she trained point-to-pointers, had been looking after Mr B in his retirement. She found out what had happened when she went to see the horse.
‘There’s no comfort’
“I’m pretty tough but I can’t begin to tell you how awful that felt,” she told H&H. “I went back to the yard in floods of tears. It wasn’t B in the field.
“I’d gone over shaking a bucket of food – and he always used to come over, food or not but he didn’t – and I saw he didn’t have a rug on but thought someone must have stolen it.
“Then I saw the horse properly and knew straight away it wasn’t B. It was awful.”
Christina said she was not told the other two were to be put down that day, or she would have moved Mr B from his field. And that as well as having to cope with the fact he was healthy and should still be alive, she has been upset by the other horses’ owner’s attitude.
“It’s been so hard,” she said. “When you put a horse down, you can comfort yourself in that you’ve done the right thing, they’re not in pain any more. But there’s no comfort from this.
“It might sound dramatic but it’s like a member of the family has been murdered.
“The owner did send a text apologising, after the yard owner said something to her, but not once has she actually said sorry. I’d be throwing my hands up saying I’d take what was coming to me.
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“And the other thing is: both horses were put down. Did B have to watch his field buddy go down in front of him? It’s a question I don’t want to ask because it would break my heart.”
Christina said the yard has now brought in a rule whereby the owner of any horse to be put down must be present, at least when the vet arrives.
“The yard owner said that will make sure it never happens there again, at least,” she said.
Neither the vet nor the other horses’ owner wanted to comment.
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