Surge in British equine rescues reported in 2013

A horse being rescued in 2013, during a grim year for equine welfare in Britain. Photo: British RSPCA
A horse being rescued in 2013, during a grim year for equine welfare in Britain. Photo: British RSPCA

The British SPCA says it has rescued, collected or taken in 1526 equines in 2013, a 69 percent increase on the previous year.

The charity said it hoped that 2014 really would be the Year in the Horse, in reference to the start of the Chinese New Year on January 31.

It said it had just over 800 horses in its care, at a cost of more than £4 million a year

“We have just four equine centres in England and none in Wales,” RSPCA Chief Inspector Cathy Hyde said.

“They are able to take in around 100 horses at any one time, leaving the majority of equines in our care in private livery. The RSPCA still funds the care of these horses and it costs us more than £4 million each year to do this.

“The horses we take in are often the most neglected, which means they prove to be the most expensive and challenging to rehabilitate.

“However, we work hard to rehabilitate these horses and desperately need people to rehome them and also to foster the younger equines. However, if people aren’t able to take in a horse they can also help by Sponsoring a Stable Block.”

The charity’s head of public affairs David Bowles said 2013 was not a good year for horse welfare in Britain.

“We’ve been out to thousands of horses that have been left abandoned or fly grazed, many of which are victims of the rising cost of feed and care, combined with a drop in the price they can fetch at market.

“This means that irresponsible owners often leave their animals to breed indiscriminately and fail to provide them with even the most basic level of care.”

Bowles said it was not all bad news, with the Welsh Government recently introducing new laws to tackle fly grazing and abandonment problems.

“We still want to see greater enforcement of microchipping and passporting legislation so we can identify those horses left to graze on other peoples’ land.

“What we need people to do now is to keep raising the issue with their MPs but also to help us fund the care of our horses and to consider rehoming a rescue horse rather than buying one.”

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