Horse lovers in Britain have rallied online in a bid to help a group of horses living on a flood plain in Leicestershire.
The Facebook page, entitled “Help the horses of Fosse Park, Leicester”, gathered 19,000 “likes” within 24 hours and had nearly 24,000 at the time of writing.
The page, set up by farrier Mark Johnson, is aimed at raising awareness of the situation of the horses in the hope that authorities will act.
Johnson mounted a rescue mission for one horse, which he found sitting in the water. It was later euthanised by authorities because of its condition, after the local fire brigade had assisted in getting the animal to firm ground.
The body of another horse – the decomposing remains of a foal – has been removed from the property, according to reports.
The animals are located on land near the Fosse Retail Park, in Leicester. However, it is part of a river flood plain and sodden conditions in recent weeks have sparked flooding in the area.
Johnson told Horse and Hound: “My one hope is that through these two dead horses we can get the rest moved and legislation changed so that horses cannot be treated like this. It’s a permanent flood plain; their hay is only fit for burning and the fencing is horrific.”
The matter is now being investigated by the RSPCA, Trading Standards and Melton Police.
A recent update on the Facebook page said: “There has been extensive media coverage today, including an interview with the owner who walked straight into a group of animated horse owners and the press.
“He claims the horses are fine and the police have stated there is no criminal offence. We shall see.
“I have banged it home as hard as I can that we need livestock legislation to apply to horses. That way, the grey areas of abuse will be better defined.”
Facebook supporters are being instructed not to feed the horses or turn up at the scene to help as the matter was under inquiry.
“We must not feed these horses or take them away. I know this is difficult as none of us want to see them in these conditions but we must follow the correct channels,” supporters were told.
Everards Brewery, in a Facebook posting earlier today, confirmed that it owned the land, which was rented to tenants.
“We have been made aware of an incident today in regards to horses on land that we own close to Fosse Park,” it said.
“We are working closely with the police and the RSPCA to understand more fully how this very sad situation came about.
“During the day, we have attempted to make contact with the tenant who lets the land from Everards but, to date, we have not been able to speak to him.
“However, we do know he has been able to speak to the police and the RSPCA, co-operating with both parties.
“We intend to review the tenancy agreement which is currently in place, whilst keeping the welfare of the horses an utmost priority. We will also continue to monitor the situation with the police and the RSPCA.”
An RSPCA spokesperson said: “The location is not ideal due to recent flooding, but the horses are kept on a huge area of land and have areas of dry land they can move to freely. The owner attends and provides extra hay. [We] cannot just remove horses if there are no legal offences.”