Appeal to Public – Please Do Not Feed Horses or Leave Gates Open.

The BHS (British Horse Society) has issued an appeal to the public to stop feeding horses after a foal suffered a bout of colic when he was fed by passers-by.

Samson, whose field bordered a public footpath, presented with “severe abdominal pain” after he was fed what was suspected to be human food.

His owner was distraught to find him dripping in sweat, shaking, rolling, and critically, getting cast against the stable walls. He was treated at home but did not improve, so the decision was made to take him into the hospital in case he needed surgery.

“Taking him to the hospital, and not knowing if he would make it, was horrendous.”

Samson made a full recovery, and ahead of the Easter bank holiday weekend the BHS is calling for members of the public not to feed horses they may encounter while out and about.

“This comes as the charity has been made aware of incidents where horses have been left seriously injured, made extremely ill or in some cases died due to the public feeding a horse or through actions such as leaving gates open,” said a BHS spokesman.

The BHS spokesman added that incidents like Samson’s are a “stark reminder” of the suffering that horses can go through as a result of inappropriate feeding. The society’s #BeHorseAware campaign aims to raise awareness and provide advice to the public about why they should not feed horses – and recommendations to owners about putting signage up.

Gabrielle Madders, BHS horse care and welfare project and partnership lead, said the BHS believes many people “act with no malicious intent” and that members of the public may think they are helping a horse.

“However, they will be unaware of the timings at which owners feed their horses and the risks that certain foods or grass cuttings can pose,” she said.

“We strongly urge members of the public to consider this and the devastating real-life heartache that has been a reality for many horse owners. If anyone does see a horse that they feel is being mistreated or underfed, we would ask them to contact the BHS horse care and welfare helpline for advice.”