Ask H&H: disposing of a horse’s body

Q: My horse is now 25 years old and is showing the signs of ageing. What will happen when he is put down and what are the “disposal” options when a horse dies?
KDM, Carmarthenshire

There are several options in terms of disposal of your horse.

Your vet can give you details of local hunt kennels — who will operate a carcass removal service, for a charge — or contacts for your local abattoir.

There are also a growing number of animal incinerator operators, whose details you can find in Yellow Pages or from Defra.

If choosing the cremation route, it would be a good idea to source a reputable local animal cremation company in advance — although some companies will come at short notice, and even collect at night.

Look online for different companies and compare their costs; if you find one you like, you may even want to create a pre-payment plan, to spread out the cost, which may run into hundreds of pounds. Seek personal recommendation — you can’t put a price on a discreet and sensitive service.

For anyone considering burying their horse at home, pets’ bodies are subject to European and domestic waste controls.

Burial of a pet by a private owner on their own land is allowed, provided the burial does not pose health risks; the horse’s vet should be consulted on this matter.

The local authority and Environment Agency must be contacted before burial to check no environmental risks are posed and to authorise burial.

If your horse is put down at the vets’, make sure you discuss with the practice how you’d like the animal’s body disposed of.



This article was first published in Horse & Hound (1 October, ’09)