Owners Asked To Make Plans In Case Of Inability To Care For Animals

The British Horse Society (BHS) has released photos of a pure-bred Arab stallion, Prince Darkhano, currently resident in the Society's Oxhill Rescue Centre, as a real-life illustration of what can happen if a horse owner doesn't make plans to safeguard their horse's future.

Prince Darkhano, now fully recovered, was one of five pure-bred Arabians seized by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) from a stud in Derbyshire. As the RSPCA did not have suitable premises for the three stallions and two mares, they were placed with the BHS pending prosecution of the owner for cruelty. The RSPCA agreed to drop the prosecution after the horses' owner agreed to sign the animals over to the BHS for rehoming.

BHS Head of Welfare, Rosemary Jackson, explained, "It would have been futile and cruel to prosecute the owner. She is an 82 year-old lady in poor health who had been forced to rely on an employee to care for the much loved horses she had dedicated her life to. She was badly let down, and was devastated when she realized the horses had been so neglected. She is currently in hospital and we will be helping her to find suitable homes for another six horses that are temporarily in our care."

The Society normally gelds stallions prior to rehoming, but in the case of these well-bred animals, is hoping to place them on long-term loan to a reputable breeder. Mrs. Jackson said, "They are well-handled animals with good temperaments, but stallions require expert management."

The Society is calling on all horse and pony owners to ask themselves who would care for the animals should the owner suddenly be taken ill, or worse. Mrs. Jackson said, "No matter how well-meaning friends or family members may be, circumstances may prevent them helping out. There may be a dispute over ownership or responsibility. No one wants to think about a worse-case scenario, but if someone dies suddenly, the well-being of their horses might be the last thing relatives want to think about. Owners should ensure clear instructions are left regarding the future of their horses. A young horse may be sold to a suitable home, but an old horse may find itself unwanted and uncared for. Responsible owners should ensure instructions about the disposal of horses (and pets) are included in their will."

The BHS also issued a warning to owners to be wary of people offering to find horses good homes". Mrs. Jackson said, "It seems like an ideal solution. But there are some dishonest characters around and a real shortage of good homes. We are aware of individuals falsely claiming to be acting for animal welfare charities who persuade owners to give their horses away, believing they will be well cared for. Owners should always check out anyone who offers this service with the charity's head office."

While voluntary BHS welfare officers can often advise, they are not permitted to accept horses for rehoming unless authorized by the BHS Welfare Department. Mrs. Jackson said, "We can only accept horses in rescue situations—owners must take responsibility for their own horses' futures."

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