Major welfare concerns as hoof neglect means four horses put down

  • A leading equine welfare charity said it has “serious concerns” over hoof care – as it has had to put four horses down in the past year.

    A spokesman for Bransby Horses told H&H the team was worried by the number of cases of hoof neglect the charity saw last year – a trend that is continuing in 2024.

    “In 2023 more than half of the animals involved had to be put to sleep due to the severity of their condition,” she said, adding that financial constraints were one factor, but horses who were difficult to handle, with owners’ lack of knowledge, have also played a part.

    Bransby welfare manager Rachel Jenkinson said: “In 2023 we had 18 cases, four of which were life-threatening, which is unprecedented for us. We’ve seen similar cases over the years but never this many and it’s concerning.

    “As we move into 2024 we continue to see long feet left untrimmed for months and shod feet left well over the recommended four to six weeks – the majority of all admissions at the start of this year have needed urgent farrier treatment. The last time we saw a case anything like what we are seeing now was four years ago. At the time it was the worst neglect case we’d ever dealt with, but in 2023 we had three cases to match it and one that was more severe.”

    Two ponies signed over to Bransby last October had to be put down as the lack of hoof care had caused “irreversible” damage to hoof structures, ligaments and tendons.

    “It’s not just the long foot growth that is the problem, it’s the unseen damage to the internal structures of the foot that often mean these horses will need pain management for the remainder of their lives,” Ms Jenkinson said.

    “Although there is no official shortage of farriers in the UK as such, there seems to be an issue arising where owners are struggling financially, and this is often exacerbated by horses that are difficult to handle and farriers are, quite rightly, reluctant to provide a farrier service.

    “If this is the case we would urge farriers and livery yard owners who are concerned about an animal or can see a problem arising to call us or to put the owner in touch with us. Our welfare hotline number is 01427 787369 or email welfare@bransbyhorses.co.uk

    “Most importantly for farriers and other equine professionals, calls can be in confidence and do not require anyone to be involved beyond that point. As for owners who are struggling but may be embarrassed or ashamed to ask for help, it’s possible a call to us could help so please don’t be afraid to reach out.”

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