Horse owners in a sodden Britain are being urged to take action now to safeguard their horses, especially so in areas at risk of flooding.
Storms continue to batter Britain, with firefighters and RSPCA rescue teams battling the weather and floodwaters to get stranded animals to safety.
Experts anticipate grazing shortages for months in the wake of the storms.
The Buckinghamshire-based charity, The Horse Trust, is advising horse owners to take steps to keep themselves and their horses safe.
The charity said the extreme weather that has blighted Britain for weeks appeared set to continue and severe flood warnings were still in place across the Thames Valley and the South West region.
“We advise owners affected by the floods to keep a close eye on the situation and take action sooner rather than later,” chief executive Jeanette Allen said.
“Please don’t wait until things get worse and put yourselves or your horses at risk. If your fields are flooded act early and move your horses to higher ground to ensure that they remain out of danger.
“If access is a problem then ensure that you stock up on feed, fresh water and essential supplies and take steps to make sure that you can continue to get to your horses safely to care for them.”
Although the first priority was keeping horses and their owners safe during the rainstorms, the long-term impact of the floods could be devastating.
Experts predict that it could take up to six weeks for flooding to subside after the rain has stopped. Owners in the Thames Valley and other affected areas should be prepared for an unprecedented lack of grazing for their horses for at least six months following the end of the stormy weather.
The charity, which cares for retired or rescued horses, ponies and donkeys, including many who have served the country in the police or military, has been coping well, despite the gale force winds and torrential rain.
Like much of the country, the charity has suffered power cuts and damage to buildings.
Allen said: “Although the weather is presenting many challenges our staff and horses are doing remarkably well. As most of our horses are elderly or rescued they are monitored very carefully and all of our fields have plenty of extra hay and shelters.
“We were particularly worried that Hamish, a two-year-old miniature Shetland who is recovering in a stable after being found abandoned with a broken pelvis, would be having a stressful time with the gale force winds hitting us from all sides, but he was incredibly brave.
“He used to find storms very scary, but he’s learned that he’s safe and is doing brilliantly.”
Allen continued: “Our thoughts go to horse owners across the country who have been affected by the recent flooding and our colleagues who have been doing all they can to help.”