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BHS Warns of Unscrupulous Dealers

The British Horse Society has issued a warning to horse owners about the dangers of unscrupulous dealers. Reports have been coming in that dealers are advertising in equestrian magazines for 'companion' horses. Owners are selling their horses to these people in good faith, thinking that their much loved horse or pony will spend the rest of its days being cared for in pleasant surroundings as a companion to another horse.

However, the BHS has received complaints that dealers posing as private owners seeking a companion horse are in fact selling the horses on, either at sales or to the meat market. This is not illegal if they have actually paid for the horse or have what is in effect a Bill of Sale.

The practice of seeking companion horses is well established in the horse world. Horses are herd animals and often owners with only one horse will offer a home to an unsound or old horse so that their own horse has company in the field. When a horse is no longer fit to be ridden, whether through lameness or age, an owner who does not have the resources to keep two horses is faced with the dilemma of what to do with a horse which has perhaps served them well for many years. The prospect of someone offering a good home for the horse to end its days in comfort is very appealing, but owners need to be sure that this will be the case.

The BHS recommends that owners who want someone else to look after their horse till the end of its days must satisfy themselves that the person taking on their horse will do just that. This will involve extensive enquiries and even requesting references. If a horse is put out on permanent loan - with a proper written agreement - then the person to whom it is loaned may not sell it, loan it or put it down without the original owner's agreement. However, if the horse is sold, even if only £20 changes hands, then the new owner is free to dispose of that horse how they wish.

If owners can no longer care for their horse themselves, and cannot sell it, then the kindest thing to do is to have the horse put down. It is not fair to risk it being put in a auction or being passed around dealers and meat men. When people buy a horse they must think very hard about what they will do when the time comes when it can no longer be ridden, and be prepared to take the difficult decision in the interests of the well being of the horse
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