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Gaining insights into factors associated with rehoming of horses from equine charities
  1. Jane Williams
  1. Hartpury University, Gloucester, UK
  1. email: jane.williams{at}

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The British equestrian sector is experiencing growth – 27 million people have an interest in equestrianism, participation in riding is increasing and the economic contribution of the industry has grown to £4.7 billion.1 The current equine population of Great Britain is estimated to be 847,000 horses, donkeys and mules, with the majority of these being privately owned and kept for sport and leisure riding purposes.1,2

Despite the growth in popularity of equestrianism, Great Britain has arguably been in the maelstrom of an ongoing equine welfare crisis since the start of the current decade.3,4 No statutory equine database exists, there is no regulation of breeding or ownership and the current poor economic climate continues to increase the costs of horse ownership. Alongside this, the equine industry acknowledges there is an obesity crisis among recreational horses,5 and a recent study has shown horse owners scored poorly in a quiz evaluating their general knowledge and understanding of common equine management practices.6

The result is an increasing burden on the equine charities, which, despite often already operating close to capacity, have to also provide support for welfare cases, homes for unwanted horses and education for horse owners to empower them to be able to appropriately discharge the duty of care they have to their horses. In this climate, it is essential that charities are able to source responsible homes for the horses in their care.

Understanding human behaviour and decision making is essential within the horse-human relationship.7 Developing and maintaining a strong positive horse-human relationship can promote positive welfare and management, while the breakdown of this relationship is often associated with deficits within equine management and training systems.8 Therefore, establishing key attributes that make ‘sustainable and safe’ horse-human …

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