Horses and ponies are popular companion animals; there are estimated to be between 600,000 and just under a million in the UK .
There are many different breeds of horses and ponies, varying in size, body shape and temperament.
Although their working lives, the period when they can be ridden or driven, may be much shorter, they can live well into their thirties and many can live for much longer.
Your duty to care
Owning and caring for a horse or pony is great fun and immensely rewarding. But it is also a big responsibility and a long-term commitment, in terms of care, hard work and finances.
Horses and ponies have very complex needs so looking after them well can be challenging. If you own or are responsible for a horse or pony, even on a temporary basis, you are required by law to care for it properly.
Read more about the Animal Welfare Act and your duty of care to your animals.
The five welfare needs
There is no one 'perfect' way to care for all horses and ponies because every animal and every situation is different. It is up to you how you look after your horse or pony, but you must take reasonable steps to ensure that you meet all its needs.
Read our expert reviewed pet care information to find out more about the needs of horses and ponies:
Environment, Diet, Behaviour, Company, Health and welfare.
 Department for Environment, Food and Agriculture (Defra) & British Horse Industry Confederation (BHIC), 2004. A report of research on the horse industry in Great Britain.