There is no doubt that a wobbly legged newborn foal is nigh on irresistible, but horse owners and breeders are being urged to resist the temptation to add to the world’s horse population.
Spring is in the air in the northern hemisphere and many horse owners will be thinking about putting their mare in foal. But welfare organisation The British Horse Society is pleading with owners to give it serious thought before they send their mare to stud.
“Thousands of horses are suffering every day in the UK because there are not enough safe and knowledge homes available to care for them,” the BHS says.
“Equestrian charities are almost at breaking point struggling to keep up with the demand for their help with recent figures suggesting there are around 12,000 horses and ponies in the care of member charities of the National Equine Welfare Council (NEWC) and fewer than 100 vacancies across the whole of Britain.”
The BHS believes the only way to deal with the problem is to tackle it at its root cause and reduce the numbers being bred.
“There have been a number of high profile campaigns to encourage the neutering of cats and dogs but until now our horse population has been overlooked. While it is easier to control breeding in horses as far fewer are feral or stray, the challenge faced by our equine friends is the vast number of owners consciously breeding indiscriminately from unsuitable animals.”
Lee Hackett, BHS Senior Executive (Welfare) explains: “Horses frequently live for more than 30 years so they represent a long-term investment. No-one is in a position to guarantee a horse a home for life, so before putting their mare in foal owners need to ensure that the animal they intend to breed will appeal to other horse lovers should they no longer be in a position to care for it
“Before breeding from their horse, owners need to ask themselves a number of questions: Why are you breeding from your mare? What future will the foal have? Do you have the experience, time and money to raise a foal? If you cannot confidently answer these questions then now is not the time to be producing a foal.”
The British Horse Society launched its Think Before you Breed campaign in 2010. The long term aim is to reduce horse numbers in the UK through encouraging horse owners to breed responsibly.