A recent welfare case has highlighted the dangers of indiscriminate breeding after a charity was forced to step in to rescue horses from an operation that had spiralled out of control.

Earlier this month (19 November) 60 horses had to be removed from a field in Surrey — after the herd became so large the owner could not look after them.

During its peak last year, the lady had a herd of more than 120 equines.

The problem started in 2002 when the owner, who had 14 horses, decided to bring in a further 10 animals to start a breeding program.

The owner did make some attempts to control the population of her breeding herd by having many of the stallions gelded — but not all, so the number of horses continued to soar with a negative impact on their welfare.

The owner was unable to catch her horses — most of which were not handled or weaned — which meant they did not receive basic care such as worming, grooming or farriery.

World Horse Welfare field officer Claire Gordon, who had tried to help the lady before the start of winter, finally persuaded her to sign over the majority of her horses to the charity.

“It took 4 days and a huge team of people to round up and safely process the owner’s herd and load them into fleets of lorries to transfer them to the charity’s care,” said Ms Gordon.

“The horses were wild, suspicious of new company and running free as a giant herd in a deep muddy field. This made splitting the herd into lorry loads and managing mare and foal bonds very difficult.”