The largest animal charity in England and Wales has released figures showing an alarming rise in equine rescues last year.
The RSPCA said it took in 979 horses last year, a 55 per cent increase on the year before.
The charity described it as an enormous increase, with almost three horses a day being rescued.
It said it had more than 850 horses, donkeys and ponies in its care, which had sparked the launch of its Stables Sponsorship initiative, asking horse lovers to help it care for rescued equines until they were ready for rehoming.
“For several years now we as a charity have been picking up the pieces of the equine crisis, with our inspectors being called out to sick, injured, neglected or cruelly treated horses every single day,” said Cathy Hyde, who leads its equine inspectors.
“And, despite our best efforts, the crisis is not getting any better.
“For many of the horses, being rescued is just the beginning of a long road to recovery, and it can take many months for us to rehabilitate them to a point where they can be rehomed.
“The time and work during those months is absolutely essential but extremely costly, and we now find ourselves with over 850 horses in our care, so we desperately need the public’s help.
“Those who rehome a horse from us are doing something very special but for those who aren’t in a position to do so, this new scheme provides a unique opportunity to make a huge difference too.”
The charity said the impact of the recession, over-breeding, the high costs of vet bills and falling prices for horses had all contributed to the crisis, which has also seen a distressing number of horses dumped dead and dying like rubbish.
It said the poor state of the horses meant that the cost and length of their rehabilitation was increasing, which sparked the Stables Sponsorship scheme.
The RSPCA said its national call centre received more than 30,000 calls about horses last year, and already this year alone more than 500 equines had come into its equine centres.
These include four-year-old horse Prince, pictured, who came into the RSPCA’s care last winter. He was found abandoned, suffering with a nasty leg injury that exposed a tendon.
Prince was unsure of people but grooms worked hard to rehabilitate him and treat his injury and help him to trust people again. Thankfully, Prince is now healed and is ready to find a new home.
People can learn about the new sponsorship initiative by called 0300 123 0346 in the UK or visiting this page.
People can learn more about its rehoming process here.