Wednesday 21st of February 2024

Charities Support Owners During Equine End of Life

With you every step of the way

World Horse Welfare, Blue Cross and The British Horse Society partner to provide guidance and support for owners at the end of their horse’s life.

World Horse Welfare, Blue Cross and The British Horse Society (BHS) have joined forces to offer advice and support for horse owners making the difficult decision to have their horse or pony euthanased, dealing with their sudden death, or planning ahead to make sure they are prepared for these situations in the future.

A recent social media poll of more than 1,000 horse owners conducted by the three charities showed over 40 per cent  haven’t planned for the practical aspects of their horse passing away, whilst two thirds (67%) had previously made the decision to have their horse euthanased. When asked about where they would go for advice, almost 60 per cent of horse owners would ask their horse-owning friends and 92 per cent would turn to their vet for advice. Over 75 per cent (77%) of horse owners felt they had a good understanding of the options available for euthanasia, but more than 80 per cent (80%) said they would find it helpful to have a ‘one-stop-shop’ which combined the various support services offered by equine charities to guide them through this difficult time.

Each charity offers free support and advice services which combined cover all aspects of equine euthanasia and sudden death, with the three charities partnering in an initiative entitled ‘With you every step of the way’. World Horse Welfare’s ‘Just in Case’ resources provide help and guidance on the different options available, including planning for the practical aspects of euthanasia or sudden death and considering the horse’s quality of life, whilst The BHS’ ‘Friends at the End’ initiative offers support through the process to ensure owners never feel isolated or alone, and pet charity Blue Cross offers a unique Pet Bereavement Support Service which provides specialist telephone and email support and advice to help owners deal with the grief they feel at losing a much-loved equine partner.


With you every step of the way 2

World Horse Welfare Head of UK Support, Sam Chubbock said:

“The end of their horse’s life is understandably something which most owners prefer not to think about but it is an experience which can be made much less painful if the appropriate plans have already been put in place and they know where to go for support. Making the decision to have a horse euthanased, or dealing with their sudden death, is often a very difficult time, but the wealth of resources and information provided by our partnership with Blue Cross and BHS now provides comprehensive support to help owners every step of the way.”

Tracie McGrory, Blue Cross Pet Bereavement Support Service Manager, said: 

“Having to have your horse or pony euthanased or facing the end of your horse’s life is a very painful process and we really want to help owners who have to go through this difficult and sometimes lonely period. Each charity offers something unique to help and support horse and pony owners, and we hope that by joining our expertise and services and can support and advise them even more.”

Sophie Cookson, BHS Welfare Co-ordinator, said:

“We hear from countless horse owners who don’t know how to cope when they need to make this difficult decision. Our ‘Friends at the End’ initiative is a support for owners in this time of need. By teaming up with World Horse Welfare and Blue Cross, we can reach more horse owners to let them know they are not alone – we are there for them.”

World Horse Welfare ‘Just in Case’

Just in Case is a suite of materials designed to help guide owners through the process, providing a valuable resource and helping hand for anyone whether they are making the difficult decision now or simply preparing for all eventualities in the distant future.

Two leaflets are available: one to give the facts, and the other to help make a plan long before it is needed. ‘Just in Case: The Facts’ clearly and sensitively explains all aspects of the situation, such as the options available and what to expect, how to assess quality of life, insurance and legislation issues, and whether you should be there. ‘Just in Case: Owner’s Plan’ provides a clear form which can be completed in advance. Owners can also use this to be certain that anyone caring for the horse, for instance the livery yard or a friend, knows what choices they would make even if they can’t be contacted in an emergency.

British Horse Society ‘Friends at the End’

‘Friends at the End’ is a BHS initiative designed to make sure that no horse owner has to face the loss of their equine companion alone. Friends at the End was launched in response to pleas from owners who felt isolated and unsupported during the time every horse lover dreads.  Through this initiative, our BHS ‘Friends’ have helped many owners either before, during or after the loss of their beloved horse. 

All of the Friends at the End team have lost horses themselves and received training from bereavement counsellors, so they have a genuine understanding of the loss and grief that come when a horse dies. They aren’t there to take the place of a counsellor or vet, but they can offer an extra source of support. At the hardest time in a horse owner’s journey, Friends are available to make it as smooth and straightforward as possible.

Blue Cross Pet Bereavement Support Service

Losing a horse or pony can often be equated to losing a member of the family. It is therefore very important not to underestimate the grieving process, and the strength of feelings that any owner or carer may feel once their horse has died. It may be useful to talk to family members, or in some cases a trained counsellor who deals specifically with people suffering from grief. 

The Blue Cross Pet Bereavement Support Service is a telephone helpline and email service that offers free and confidential support to bereaved pet owners, through a national network of trained volunteer befrienders.

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