Equine charities are warning that the number of long-term companion homes available for horses is “very limited” in the current market.
Re-homing charity Horses4Homes told H&H that there is a small market for companion ponies, but the chance of finding a new home as a companion for a thoroughbred is “incredibly remote”.
Of the 180 horses Horses4Homes re-homed last year, only 6% found homes as companions. Of these, 58% were ponies.
Companion horses that owners do not want ridden for health or behavioural reasons currently account for 20% of the horses listed with the charity.
World Horse Welfare’s Sam Chubbock said: “In this market, it can be incredibly difficult to find companions good homes, particularly if they have any quirks or health issues.”
Rebecca Evans, re-homing manager at Horses4Homes, said if owners cannot justify the expense of looking after a horse that can no longer be ridden, the best option may be to put it down.
“Euthanasia of any animal is difficult, but owners must have the courage to put their much- loved, unrideable horses to sleep rather than run the risk of that horse being sent to an inappropriate home where its welfare needs may not be met,” she told H&H.
Ms Evans, who worked for The Horse Trust before setting up Horses4Homes last year, also warned owners not to offer companion horses for loan on social media sites, as she has had reports of horses being misrepresented.
“For horses that can be ridden there are new homes out there, but for those that are difficult to handle and can’t be ridden it’s practically impossible,” she added.
Ms Chubbock warned that owners should take great care to re-home responsibly, by vetting any new home and checking references.
This news story was first published in Horse & Hound (21 August, 2014)