A new initiative launched by the British Horse Society (BHS) is designed to ensure that no horse owner has to face the loss of their equine companion alone. The charity introduced the initiative, "Friends at the End," in response to pleas from owners who felt isolated and unsupported during the time every horse lover dreads.

Owners frequently have to make the decision about when the time has come to end their companion’s life. Even when this is unquestionably the right thing to do, it often leads to feeling of guilt.

More than 100 volunteer welfare officers have attended training that will help them support horse owners through the difficult process of saying good bye. BHS Friends at the End can also talk to owners about the options available if they can no longer keep their horse for any reason.

If a horse does need to be put the sleep, regardless of the reason, BHS Friends will discuss the choices with owners, from the method of euthanasia to what to do afterwards. Many are willing to be there on the day to offer support, and some will even hold the horse if the owner doesn’t feel able.

"All of our Friends at the End have lost horses themselves and received training from bereavement counselors so they really do understand the feelings of loss and grief that come when a horse dies," BHS senior executive of welfare Lee Hackett said. "They aren’t there to take the place of a counselor or vet, but they can offer an extra source of support. At the hardest time in a horse owner’s journey our friends are available to make it as smooth and straightforward as possible."

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