A British-based international charity estimates 6000 horses are at risk in England and Wales in the depths of the northern winter.
World Horse Welfare chief executive Roly Owers, in the charity’s annual Christmas message, noted that the welfare group had taken in 50 per cent more horses since 2006.
“We’ve been working with several other charities to highlight this growing equine crisis both to the public and to government,” Owers said.
“One of the biggest problems we find in our day-to-day work to help horses, is being able to link a horse to an owner,” he said.
“We need government to act to help us stop flygrazing [illegal grazing] and improve owner traceability of horses.”
He encouraged those who could offer a good home to a rescued horse to do so now. This will enable even more horses to get the care they need.
The horses and ponies that arrive in the charity’s four centres are in dire need of assistance, such as Zazu who was brought to World Horse Welfare this November and was close to death.
“Zazu is a two-year-old colt we found dumped, lame, and with the debilitating and horrific disease, strangles.
“Our staff are working night and day to save his life.”
Sadly, Zazu demonstrates the kind of flygrazed and abandoned pony that the charity is seeing all too regularly.
Owers also addressed the issue of the long-haul transport of horses across Europe to slaughter.
“The number of horses suffering horrifically on long distance journeys across Europe to slaughter has decreased significantly,” he said.
“We estimate over the past decade that numbers have reduced from 165,000 to 65,000.”
“That’s still 65,000 journeys too many.”
He said the charity would continue to work to put an end to the long-distance transportation of horses across Europe to abattoirs.