The view that keeping horses alive represents good welfare has been challenged by a senior British Horse Society figure, as Britain continues to face equine challenges.
Its director of equine policy, Lee Hackett, has offered insights into the crisis affecting Britain’s horse population in the latest issue of the society’s magazine.
Hackett urges people to face up to the realities of the current situation.
With so many unwanted horses roaming Britain, horse lovers are inevitably tempted to try to take matters into their own hands. However, Lee advises horse owners to think twice before rushing to the “rescue” and suggests that a more pragmatic approach may be necessary.
“Let’s lose the view that good welfare always means keeping animals alive,” Hackett says.
“We can’t afford to think like this any longer. Finding a horse a new purpose or new home so we can avoid putting them down really is not always the best solution.
“Humane euthanasia is far from the worst fate that can befall a horse. Just ask any one of The British Horse Society’s 200-plus welfare officers who are constantly on call to help horses suffering and in distress.”
The society is also launching its new grass sickness campaign in the latest issue, in conjunction with the Equine Grass Sickness Fund and the Animal Health Trust.
The aim is to raise money for a full clinical trial of a new vaccine that could mean the end of the devastating equine disease.
The Animal Health Trust has already conducted a successful pilot study, which is a major breakthrough. The next stage is a full-size clinical trial of the potential vaccine.
“Grass sickness causes huge suffering to the horses it affects and the people who care for them,” Hackett says.
“At the moment we have no real means of treating or preventing it and while the status quo remains horses will continue to die.
“However, there is light at the end of the tunnel thanks to the prospect of a vaccine. The British Horse Society is the organisation for people who love horses and we are delighted to be teaming up with the Equine Grass Sickness Fund and the Animal Health Trust to launch this appeal.
“Raising the money needed to fund the vaccine trial might just enable us to defeat this horrific disease once and for all.”