5 Ways Horses Are Being Mistreated

All across the world, horses are being mistreated. Sometimes horse owners are oblivious to their actions, but more times than not, these horses are voluntarily mistreated. I’ve been around long enough to, unfortunately, witness some of these awful ways. Having an understanding of how horses can be mistreated will help you recognize the signs and take proper action when you see it happening.

Here are some ways horses are mistreated:

  • Horses are being abandoned at boarding stables
  • Horse owners are neglecting basic horse care responsibility
  • Riders continue to work horses that suffer from a painful condition
  • Horses are being overworked
  • Horses are being ridden at too young of an age


These mistreatments are an epidemic to the horse world. Some people only need education in order to better treat their animals while some simply refuse to recognize that horses are living breathing animals that suffer as we do.

Horses Are Being Abandoned at Boarding Stables

One thing that happens all too often is horses get abandoned at a boarding stable. Many horses are abandoned like this if the original owner can no longer afford to pay for the horse. This leaves the boarding stable owner to then care for and find a home for the abandoned horse. Not only is this inconsiderate to the horse, but also to the person who will now be caring for the horse, since we all know, horses are a lot of money.

If you see this happening or maybe you’re in this situation, just know that there are plenty of organizations and rescues that will gladly take a horse. You don’t have to be ashamed to let someone know you’re struggling to afford your animal; everyone will think much better of you if you let someone know and see what you can do to surrender the horse over to good hands.

It’s vital to stress that before you purchase a horse, make sure that it is well in your budget to afford the animal. Horses are expensive, and this shouldn’t be taken lightly. Horses need feed, vet care, and farrier visits regularly. To know what it actually costs to own a horse, check out our article, What Does it Cost to Own a Horse? Complete Expense Guide.

Horse Owners are Neglecting Basic Horse Care Responsibility

Another thing that uneducated horse owners may not realize is that horses need daily care. Not only that, but they also require attention to their hooves and teeth on a regular basis. (To know how often a horse needs its hooves trimmed, click here.) Many horses in this situation can go years without any care to these areas, and they suffer from the consequences.

Horses need their hooves trimmed regularly in order to maintain balance through their body. We’ve all seen those horrible pictures of neglected horses that have hooves that are so long that they curl. This is unacceptable and can permanently damage a horse’s hoof and leg structure.

Horse’s teeth grow their entire life. Their teeth also tend to form sharp edges on the outside ridge of the tooth due to the way the horse chews its food. This can cause abrasions and ulcers in the horse’s mouth. Horse’s teeth need to be floated, or at least checked by a vet, once a year to ensure they’re in good condition.

Riders Continue to Work Horses That Suffer From a Painful Condition

A very sad fact is that many riders refuse to take action when they notice a health problem that their horse is having. Instead, they rather keep riding and working the animal. It’s important that we think of horses as living creatures rather than just entertainment. They feel pain like we do, yet they’re usually much more tolerant of how they deal with it.

If you continue to work a horse that is having health problems, the issue could get worse. In the long run, you’ll save a lot more money calling the vet right away and getting it treated rather than waiting until the problem is at its worst.

Horses Are Being Overworked

As mentioned in the previous point, it’s time we start thinking of horses as living creatures rather than our entertainment. It’s the mentality that horses are simply here for us to ride that gets horses overworked. Horses shouldn’t be made to jump 4 ft high every day and they shouldn’t be forced to run a race every day. These are just a few examples of how horse owners ignore the overall health of the horse.

When a horse is overworked, or anyone for that matter, they run a higher risk of being injured. Muscles get tired and tear. Tendons and ligaments can get torn. Then you’ll have an injured horse and you won’t be able to ride at all. Too much work can also frustrate a horse mentally and make them feel ill towards you. Take time to simply spend time with your horse rather than making them work.

See our article, Bonding With Your Horse: 8 Simple Tips That Actually Work.

Horses Are Being Ridden At Too Young Of An Age

Another way horses are being mistreated is that they are getting ridden and worked too hard at too young of an age. Horses take between 4-5 years to develop fully, and if they’re getting worked or ridden hard on a regular basis, this can mess with the development of their body.

This is an epidemic in the racing world and also in some western disciplines. Horses are started too young and then required to gallop around the track too frequently or cut cattle, both of which can put a lot of stress on the body.

Young horses need time to develop both physically and mentally before diving into real work. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s great to start desensitizing young horses and getting them used to humans being around them, but I don’t think they should be worked as a regular horse.

These are just a few ways horses are being mistreated every day. Knowledge is power, and I hope after reading this article, some people can walk away with the power to make a difference. To learn how to better care for your horse, check out our article, 50 Tips for New Horse Owners: Everything You Need to Know.

(P.S. Did you know I’m on Youtube? Subscribe to my channel here for weekly horse videos!)

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Carmella Abel, Pro Horse Trainer

Hi! I’m Carmella

My husband and I started Equine Helper to share what we’ve learned about owning and caring for horses. I’ve spent my whole life around horses, and I currently own a POA named Tucker. You can learn more here.

Thank you for reading, and happy trails!

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