OLDS — In a talk on Equine RRSP – Retirement, Rescue, Slaughter and Public Attitudes at this year’s Livestock Care Conference.
Dr. Bettina Bobsien delivered valuable insights and information on the challenges related to caring for horses over what is often a long lifespan.
She provided attendees with an understanding of the lengthening lifespans of horses in North America and the animal welfare implications of that trend, diving into details on the financial care and needs associated with caring for older horses and the end of life options for horses without willing caregivers.
Horses used to live to around age 20.
Now, with medications, specialty feeds and dental care horses can live comfortably well into their 30s.
Horse owners need to ensure they have the resources to provide quality care over that time period.
There is a responsibility to also consider options for what is best for the horse under different situations.
“There is no bad welfare associated with a timely euthanasia, but there is terrible welfare associated with people pawning off their old, unwanted horses to unsuspecting horse lovers who don’t have the knowledge or resources to provide appropriate care to end of life.”
Old age is not an excuse for loss of condition, she cautions. Another new challenge is “over horsing” good owners.
“We see situations such as social media campaigns to save horses destined for slaughter. Well-meaning people adopt these low value animals despite the fact that they already have as many horses as they can properly care for. Welfare of the whole group suffers as a result. This is something we can improve upon with broader awareness of this issue.”