‘No horse should have to end its life like that’: vet urges owners to stop giving away older and unrideable horses

  • A vet who put down an elderly mare who had been sold for a “bargain” price, has urged owners to stop giving away older and unrideable horses, and to “do the right thing”.

    Natalie McGoldrick, owner of South Coast Equine Vets, was called out to a collapsed mare on Monday (21 March). Natalie was told the owner had bought the horse seven weeks ago as a seven-year-old, but the mare was discovered to be in her 20s and suffering from poor health. The emaciated mare was unable to get to her feet and was put down.

    Natalie told H&H no horse should have to end its life like that.

    “This mare was in a place she didn’t really know, she couldn’t get up and she was terrified. There is no dignity in that,” she said.

    “That afternoon I kept thinking about her. At some point that mare gave something to someone, and for her to basically end her days on the floor like that, was devastating.”

    Natalie said buyers should be aware when horses are advertised cheaply.

    “In this mare’s case the owner thought she was getting a bargain – but nothing in life is a bargain. She came to them in very poor condition and continued to deteriorate. It can be very difficult to turn these horses around when they are emaciated,” she said, adding that sellers should also be aware of people looking for cheap horses.

    “It’s not always the case, but quite often if someone’s looking for a very cheap or free horse there’s a high chance they can’t afford the vet fees, the feed, and everything that goes with keeping a horse. Everyone knows it’s not the initial outlay in the horse world, it’s the management and looking after them.”

    Natalie added that owners have to remember if they sell or give horses away, they no longer have a say in what happens to them.

    “I see posts on social media when people have given a horse away then become outraged it’s now being sold as a ridden horse, and you see these tracing posts all the time,” she said.

    “I’m sorry but you don’t give them away for free. It comes as no surprise they often end up in the wrong hands.”

    Natalie has urged owners to “do the right thing” with older and unrideable horses, and to consider euthanasia if they are no longer able to care for them.

    “I’m not saying as soon as a horse isn’t rideable, put them down. But if you genuinely cannot afford to keep your older horse, you should really think about putting that horse down – there are fates worse than death,” she said.

    “We have the privilege of being able to give an animal a very dignified end, and that’s a much kinder option if you’re considering giving your horse away or selling it for a few hundred pounds to someone you don’t know.”

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