Responsible rehoming of horses

World Horse Welfare and other National Equine Welfare Council (NEWC) members have put together some advice for owners needing to rehome their own horses.

World Horse Welfare and other National Equine Welfare Council (NEWC) members have put together some advice for owners needing to rehome their own horses.

Making the decision to rehome your horse can be difficult, but the sooner you investigate the rehoming options, the better the chances are of securing a positive outcome for you and your horse. 

The following guidance will examine the logistics of loaning and use of charities for rehoming horses. For guidance on buying and selling horses, click here.  


Loaning is when you retain ownership (and legal responsibility) of the horse, but someone else is responsible for their daily care. The horse may be kept on the same yard the owner has them on, or if the horse is going out on full loan, the horse may move locations to the loanee’s yard or home. This can work well if it is carefully arranged. There are inevitably risks involved in asking another person to take on caring for your horse, but these risks can be reduced with careful planning. It is advisable to: 

  • Look for a local home, as it will be easier to keep in touch with your horse and the loanee 
  • Always put a written loan agreement in place to define exactly what is expected of each party, including regular visits. The agreement should be signed by both parties and a copy kept by each party 
  • Ensure you have a contingency plan should the loan home wish to return your horse. This could happen at any time, and you must be prepared to take your horse back or secure another home. 

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Companion homes 

In some cases, it may be possible to find a suitable home for a non-ridden companion, but fewer people are willing to take on the expense of a horse they cannot ride. People who are looking for a companion generally seek a horse that is straightforward, requiring minimal management and expense. You also need to consider whether this is the right thing for your horse. For example, older horses may find a new home unsettling and stressful having a negative impact on the horse’s welfare. The loaning tips outlined above should still be applied. 

Equine welfare charities 

Most charities, including World Horse Welfare, are unable to take horses from private owners due to the high number of rescue and neglect cases. Each charity has its own criteria for accepting horses and most would expect you to sign over ownership to the organisation. Although there are very few spaces at charities, they will be more than happy to discuss options available to you in more detail. Some charities offer rehoming services that involve the horse staying with you and not coming into charity care; they will then work on matching the horse with a suitable owner and home.  

When looking for a suitable charity visit the National Equine Welfare Council website Member charities meet NEWC’s Codes of Practice Welfare Organisations, meaning they follow guidelines to ensure the needs of all their horses are met. If you are offered a place with a charity, it is important to research and visit the organisation that has made the offer before accepting.  

You have a duty of care to investigate all available rehoming options should you become unable to care for your horse. Every owner, by accepting and dealing with rehoming responsibly, can make a real difference to the overall standards of welfare in the UK. This may reduce the cycle of neglect seen regularly by equine welfare charities.  

In addition, consider the quality of life of the horse being you would like to rehome especially if they are older or have additional health needs. In some cases, euthanasia may be a more welfare friendly option than rehoming. For further support regarding end of life decisions click here

Responsible Rehoming

Responsible Rehoming leaflet

Additional information about:

  • Responsible selling
  • Using companion/retirement liveries
View all General advice advice

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