BHS says “Balls to the Equine Welfare Crisis”

15th May 2015

The British Horse Society (BHS) recently held the first of its 2015 castration clinics at a site near Southampton. A total of 28 colts and stallions were gelded at the clinic, which was supported by the RSPCA, World Horse Welfare, Blue Cross and Redwings.

The clinic also marked the first collaboration between the BHS and The British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA). Through the BEVA Trust eight volunteer vets from all over Britain travelled to Southampton to roll up their sleeves and get stuck in to tackling Britain’s equine welfare crisis.

Charities have been reporting for many years the serious equine overpopulation issue that Britain faces. The stark truth is that there are more horses and ponies than the country can cope with, and this leads to the horrendous cases of neglect, suffering and abandonment from which charities are left to pick up the pieces. However, charity resources are limited and there will come a time when they are completely overwhelmed unless immediate action is taken. Thousands of horses are currently being monitored, having been identified as being at serious risk. Should a large number of these horses require immediate intervention charities will simply not be able to cope. The result of this could be catastrophic.

Overpopulation cannot be allowed to continue and needs to be tackled head on, which is why The British Horse Society and its partners are taking such proactive measures. BHS Director of Equine Policy Lee Hackett said: “We cannot stand by and ignore the problems that overpopulation and indiscriminate breeding cause. Over the next 18 months we hope to run clinics all over Britain and castrate as many horses as we can. The 28 castrations we performed in one day in Southampton was a fantastic achievement. When you consider how many foals a stallion can produce in a lifetime we could, in just one day, have prevented the birth of literally hundreds, if not thousands of potential foals, many of whom would have faced a very uncertain future.

“We are so grateful for the support of the BEVA Trust and the vets who volunteered their time to get involved and make a real difference to Britain’s welfare crisis. Their selfless hard work and dedication is what made the event such a success”.

Julian Samuelson, Chairman of the BEVA Trust Committee said: “Our BEVA Trust veterinary volunteers have been hugely enthusiastic and supportive of this important project. By castrating colts and stallions together with microchipping we are directly helping to reduce breeding and improve traceability. We are delighted that BEVA Trust has been able to help such a worthwhile and well-organised initiative and look forward to participating in future clinics.”

Castration does not just prevent a stallion from producing foals. It usually results in the horse becoming more amenable and easier to handle, increasing the likelihood of them fulfilling a useful role as a riding horse and safeguarding their future. Horses with a job to do, and therefore have a value, are far less likely to fall into the spiral of neglect and abandonment than those who are difficult to handle and untrained. Many livery yards and even field owners will not allow stallions on their premises so gelding a horse means he is far less likely to end up tethered or fly grazing. Castration can directly improve a horse’s quality of life.