Horse Welfare

Donate Fundraising Rescue Animal Cruelty Animal Welfare Horses Pet Care RSPCA Inspectors Volunteering Pet Health Pets Posted May 7, 2021
In 2018, so far we have responded to 1,385 complaints regarding horse welfare and seen 30 horses come through our RSPCA Inspectorate.

Spring horse racing is here. There are significant animal welfare problems inherent in the horse racing industry, that include problems with oversupply, housing, feeding, socialisation, training, injuries, whipping, administration of banned or unregistered substances, physical overexertion and fatigue and the fate of unwanted horses. If you’d like to use this time of year to learn more and support alternatives to spring racing, check out our info pack here!

There is no horsing around here with the RSPCA currently caring for 16 horses across Queensland. A lot of the horses currently in care are cruelty cases that are under investigation. So like dentists, we can’t show you their faces. Speaking of dentists, many of these horses require dental care, farrier services, specialised feeding programs to treat malnourishment and more. It’s a big job to rehabilitate horses. Expenses do add up, especially when they need to be in care for months and sometimes even years as court proceedings continue.

As a charity, and also when we’re faced with the limited feed issues in dry spells like other horse owners and farmers, every donation of lucerne hay is appreciated. Monetary donations to cover veterinary expenses are also greatly appreciated.

If you’d like to help ensure we can continue to feed and provide care to these horses as well as contribute to prosecuting offenders in court, you can donate here  or contact us about donations of feed.

Jackson, Olivia and Chloe are three horses available to adopt from the RSPCA in foster care. Each with their own unique personalities, they’d make great companions in the right home.

rspca horses available to adopt

Responsible Horse Ownership
Most complaints our RSPCA Inspectorate receive relate to skinny horses, abandonment, feet or dental issues - all of which could have been avoided with appropriate care provided by their owners.

Good horse owners will know that feed and medical attention can be costly with these majestic creatures. Horse ownership is not something to consider lightly and you can’t simply get a horse for any old property and think that they’ll just be a good lawn mower and can fend for themselves. 

Each year our regional inspectors also witness horses and other livestock without appropriate shade in paddocks. Even if you have a few trees around the place, that alone is not an adequate amount of shade for your horse. Small shed structures are easy to provide and when needed, livestock will make use of them. 

Multiple clean water sources are also needed for your horse.

Let’s not forget the importance of vaccinations! Humans can catch HeV (Hendra virus) from horses which in turn contract it from flying foxes. There is a vaccine available for horses which protects them from the virus, and as a result, protects you as well. Vets generally cannot attend to treat horses unless they have been vaccinated for Hendra virus.
Horse Cruelty Complaints
When horse cruelty complaints involve a number of horses on a property, RSPCA refers those complaints to Biosecurity Queensland for investigation. This is part of an agreement between the two agencies due to the fact that RSPCA Queensland only has 22 Inspectors across Queensland, and they aren’t located in every inch of the state. The agreement also provides that Biosecurity Queensland investigate industry, zoos, and livestock in larger numbers. So often, the location of a job or the volume of livestock involved means that Biosecurity Queensland/Department of Agriculture and Fisheries investigate. But RSPCA can take those complaints on their 24 hour hotline or through the website, and forward them to Biosecurity Queensland. 

When you see animal welfare concerns, report it to our 1300 ANIMAL emergency hotline. Remember, we only need one report to investigate, or where required, pass the information onto the appropriate government department. Multiple reports about the same case, without any new information, do not assist our inspectors or the animals involved. They drain resources and impact on the investigation, sometimes by alerting the animal owners who then move the animals to avoid RSPCA attention.

People often forget the RSPCA is a charity and limited in resources and funding, and often forget that we are not a government or taxpayer funded organisation. Inspectors are funded by donations from the general public. Biosecurity Queensland is a part of the government Department of Agriculture and Fisheries. Their inspectors have the same investigation powers as RSPCA Inspectors.

One particularly difficult aspect of horse cases is the fact that RSPCA do not have endless paddocks or housing facilities at their disposal. These cost money, which sadly RSPCA does not have in unlimited supplies. So we rely on foster carers, volunteers and donations – and when horse jobs increase, it can be a real challenge to juggle our resources. So seizing horses needs to be done, in some cases, only as a last resort. 

It can also sometimes be incredibly frustrating for our Inspectors when investigating horse cruelty complaints because often the best way to manage sick horses is on their current property as transport can be dangerous to their health and not all horses float easily. This often leads people to assume that nothing is being done, which could not be further from the truth. Managing horses on the current property does not mean our Inspectors aren’t aware of the situation. Our Inspectors spend a great deal of time travelling back and forth from the location of the horses, engaging with the owners. They try to educate horse owners on proper feed and horse care on site at their homes when cases are brought to our attention. Where action needs to be taken, an Animal Welfare Direction can be provided to the owner which they must abide with by law. Our Inspectors can follow up progress from there and check compliance to ensure the issue is resolved appropriately.

But not every horse owner is hospitable to our Inspectors and not all follow Animal Welfare Directions either, which means animals may then be seized and owners may be prosecuted. A recent finalised case, highlights this issue all too well. 

Bonnie, Casper and Lexie were just some of the horses at a property that were seized after their owner failed to take appropriate Animal Welfare Directions to improve their health.

Within 8 days of being in RSPCA care, Bonnie gained 10kgs, Lexie gained 37kgs and Casper gained 18kgs. This was all simply due to appropriate food and worming.

bonnie before rspca care

Above: Bonnie before receiving RSPCA care

bonnie after rspca care

Above: Bonnie after receiving RSPCA care

casper the horse before rspca care

Above: Casper before receiving RSPCA care

casper the horse after rspca care

Above: Casper after receiving RSPCA care

lexie the horse before rspca care

Above: Lexie before receiving RSPCA care

lexie the horse after rspca care

Above: Lexie after receiving RSPCA care

How you can help horses
The RSPCA is always in need of more horse foster carers to sign up! With limited space at shelters across Queensland and some facilities unable to accommodate livestock, foster carers are vital to ensuring horses get a second chance. The RSPCA provides all veterinary and feed needs while in foster homes, carers just need to provide a loving environment while they wait for court cases to conclude or get back to a healthy condition.

• If you see animal welfare concerns, report it. Call our 24/7 hotline 1300 ANIMAL. 

• Donate feed to horses in our care

• Help spread the word about horses looking for homes

• Support the work we do behind the scenes and hear it ‘straight from the horse’s mouth’!

Emma Lagoon
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