Horse owners in Britain face potential challenges going into the depths of the northern winter, including the rising cost of bedding and forage, according to World Horse Welfare chief executive Roly Owers.
Owers, in his end-of-year review, described the environmental challenges that face horses and their owners across Britain in 2018, which began in March with the so-called Beast from the East – a prolonged wave of cold air which brought plummeting temperatures and heavy snowfalls to large swathes of the country.
Then came a summer drought, the effects of which would likely be felt in the cost of bedding and forage over winter.
Owers says the charity enters winter with its centres almost full.
It had, he said, been a year of increasing challenges, one of which was the rising number of youngsters in its care. There are currently 29, 12 of whom were born from welfare cases taken in.
There was ever-growing pressure on its resources, which made its rehoming programme all the more important. Every horse who was rehomed meant the charity was able to help another horse in desperate need, he said.
Owers described 2018 as a year of huge political uncertainty, with Brexit looming and upcoming elections across the European Union.
The political landscape had provided the charity with opportunities to promote the cause of equine welfare to government.
Legislative achievements in Britain included new licensing requirements for equine establishments and the requirements for closed-circuit television monitoring in all abattoirs.
There was an update to the code of practice for equines and, in England at least, moves to a new equine identification system.
On the European stage, World Horse Welfare was closely involved in the production of guidance for responsible keeping of equines.
On another front, great progress had been made in its long-running campaign against the long distance transport of horses to slaughter across Europe. Latest numbers had seen a reduction from 50,000 to 30,000, but the charity wanted that number reduced to zero.
“We live in changing times and an ever-changing climate, both politically and environmentally. And the need for World Horse Welfare increases every year. We can only do what we do with your support and together we really are making a profound difference for thousands of horses, ponies, donkeys and mules around the world.”