Advice 2800 x 1000_0023_End of life

Equine end of life

Owners who have lost a horse urge others to plan ahead. Does anyone know what choices you would make in an emergency? We can help with this sensitive topic.

Owners who have lost a horse urge others to plan ahead. Does anyone know what choices you would make in an emergency? We can help with this sensitive topic.

Even those with a youngster, a horse on loan or one which they plan to rehome in the future should be aware of end-of-life options because illness or accidents can happen at any time and at any age. This is a situation which most owners would prefer not to think about, but one which can be made less painful if the appropriate plans have already been put in place and you know where to go for support.

Responsible horse ownership and welfare often focus on the aspects of care in giving your horse a good life but equally important is the responsibility to make sure they have a good death when the time comes.

The latest research from Advancing Equine Scientific Excellence (AESE) showed that only 1 in 8 horses die of natural causes, which means in the other 7 cases the decision to euthanase will have to be made either electively or in an emergency. In the case of any death, regardless of whether it is due to euthanasia or natural causes, there are matters that need to be considered and this is far easier to do in advance of any problem.

Considering your horse’s quality of life is imperative when thinking about euthanasia and whilst it is not an easy decision to make, the implications in delaying it can have a much greater impact on their welfare and on your peace of mind.

With You Every Step of the Way

Making a plan for Equine end of life – Just in Case

Even though your horse might be young and healthy, and even though you are sure you’ll have him for many years to come, it is still sensible to make a plan now. World Horse Welfare, the British Horse Society and the Blue Cross have a range of information and advice available to support and guide you through every step of the way in fulfilling the ultimate act of responsible ownership. You might also find it helpful to visit The Equine End of Life Service site.

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

Two leaflets are available, one to give you the facts, and the other to help you make a plan long before you will need it. ‘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. You can also use this to be certain everyone knows what choices you would make even if you can’t be contacted in an emergency.

If you would like to talk to one of our compassionate, knowledgeable team about end of life planning call +44 (0)1953 497 238 during office hours or you can download these leaflets below:

Just in case
Just in Case – The Facts leaflet

Download our leaflet to find out the facts about all the difficult decisions you may need to make

Just in case - owners plan
Just in Case – The Owners Plan leaflet

Download our leaflet to find out how to prepare for the choices you may need to make

British Horse Society ‘Friends at the End’

The British Horse Society

‘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, BHS ‘Friends at the End’ has 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.

If you feel that you might benefit from talking to someone through the Friends at the End scheme, contact BHS Welfare on 02476 840517 or

Blue Cross Bereavement Services

Blue Cross

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 been put to sleep. 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.

The Bereavement Support Service is available 365 days of the year to those who need help by phone on 0800 096 6606 (8.30am-8.30pm) or email

Please email to request World Horse Welfare’s ‘Just in Case’ pack by post.

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