BHS: Think Before You Breed Your Mare

With spring in the air, some horse owners will be thinking about putting their horse in foal. However, The British Horse Society (BHS) advises owners to give it serious thought before adding to the country's oversized horse population.

Equestrian charities worldwide are struggling to keep up with the demand for their help. Recent figures suggest that, in the U.K., there are around 12,000 horses and ponies in the care of National Equine Welfare Council member charities 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 the 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 of 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."

In 2010 The BHS launched its "Think Before You Breed" campaign, aimed at reducing the number of horses in the United Kingdom by encouraging responsible breeding.

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