Over 70% of owners who have no previous equine end-of-life experience have no plan in place, recent research has revealed.
A three-year study into horse owner attitudes to equine end of life, coordinated by Advancing Equine Scientific Excellence (AESE) and supported by World Horse Welfare and The Donkey Sanctuary, found that only one in eight horses die suddenly, meaning that most owners will be faced with making an end of life decision at some stage.
Participants who had experienced equine end of life before were asked what advice they would give to other owners and the majority stressed the importance of having a plan in place.
The research, which is the first of its kind in the UK, collected data from more than 2,500 participants using a combination of interviews, focus groups and an online survey.
It also found that end-of-life decisions are not just for older animals, with the number of equids who die aged 7-10 years being similar to those aged 26-30 years.
World Horse Welfare Head of UK Support, Sam Chubbock said: “End of life is understandably a very difficult subject for horse owners and as a result it can be tempting to avoid thinking about it until you are faced with the decision.
"However, it is critical that all owners take time to give this some thought while their horse is still fit and well rather than waiting until they are facing a devastating situation.
“Our existing ‘Just in Case’ materials are available to help owners with information and planning around end of life matters, and we would urge horse owners to download and read through these documents, plus fill out the plan which can be then kept somewhere safe until it is needed.
“There is undoubtedly a perception that as an owner you won’t need to think about the decision until your horse is in old age, but the research shows that it can happen at any time of their life and so it is vital to be prepared.
"As one horse owner said, you should be organised because if your horse, who is your best friend, is in trouble then you need to be able to help them as quickly as possible.”
To download World Horse Welfare’s Just in Case materials visit: http://www.worldhorsewelfare.org/Just-in-Case or to discuss your own individual situation call World Horse Welfare’s Advice Line on 01953 497238.
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