Discussing the end of a horse’s life

srof. Dr. Frank Gastuis, President of Paardenpunt Vlaanderen, explained the following on this confrontational and emotional evening to many horse lovers: “Horses have increasingly evolved into companion animals. It is therefore essential to discuss ending a horse’s life.” At least 7 different speakers tackled different topics, each with their own area of ​​expertise in mind. From the vision of agriculture and fisheries about horse neglect and the costs associated with caring for these horses, euthanasia, wastage of meat, slaughter, and rundown costs…. Nothing is left to chance! Many owners of an old horse sometimes swallow, but suddenly saw trees through the woods after this webinar, thank you for that!

The country of horses Flanders

As it turned out, Flanders is rich in horses – two thirds of the population of our country lives and works in Flanders – and they easily live from 30 to 35 years. A clear distinction has been made between people who keep an old horse “at home” and the costs involved in outsourcing. readers countryside life, customers par excellence of the “Horse in the House” series, will surely find this recognizable. So many will realize that living with horses until the end of their lives is an intense experience.

Just like humans, older horses – usually from the age of 20 (x 3 in human years) – suffer from diseases: teeth that require more care, joints that become more brittle and sensitive, lowered immunity and we can carry on. These diseases require adapted management – more expensive and more intensive -. The first owner of the horse in question is not always the last, because animals often change owners during their long lives. So it is the last owner who will have to make a choice regarding the end of the horse’s life.

animal welfare

The Animal Welfare Department noted that there was an oversupply of horses in 2019. This was indicated by shelters that ended up with abandoned horses, sometimes after confiscation. Between 2016 and 2020, there was a significant increase in the number of horses in Flanders according to the database. Although it must be said that some horses “stayed” longer in this database because their deaths were not reported.

In any case, unfortunately there have been and still are unwanted horses, due to injuries, due to old age, by people who can no longer afford it or who are tired of taking care of a horse that your child no longer cares for. Thus, responsible horse ownership is more important than ever. The speaker referred to www.huisdierinfo.be. Don’t be alarmed if you only notice small pets when you visit this site. Click to access guides for pets, “mammals” and finally “meadow animals”. In “Horses and Ponies” you can find everything you need to own a horse. The “Are You Fit As a Horse Owner” checklist counteracts it, but it fits perfectly.

Natural Death and Euthanasia… Slaughter!

A horse can die a natural death in its familiar environment. However, most horses are fighters by nature and will do everything they can to remain part of their herd (and also with us), even withdrawn.

All the speakers emphasized with a few or a few words that the end of a horse’s life should be animal-friendly. Every woman/man notices a horse anyway when life fades in the horse’s eyes, when he “cannot keep up with the horse”, when he is no longer lying down because he feels he can no longer get up and also when the horse can no longer look ahead for food or treats If he suffers from digestive and chewing problems and is clearly losing weight. All this is recognizable. As soon as such conditions arise, it is time to seek professional advice from your vet.

Speakers emphasized that euthanasia must be done professionally and that taboos must be broken through the provision of information. From now on, the farewell no longer had to be done along the street, it could also be in the meadow and the horse had to be adequately anesthetized before proceeding to the induction (lethal injection). If one chooses to slaughter, it can also be framed in peace. Either way, responsible performance that respects the horse takes precedence.


The price for euthanasia ranges from 250 to 300 euros. For companion horses, Rendac has been asking for €170 for collection since 2021. Since 2021, the Public Waste Agency in Flanders (OVAM) has distinguished between collecting companion horses and farm horses. You can find out all about this at www.ovam.vlaanderen.be/krengenfinancing.

Patricia Bourguignon

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