Significant numbers of horses are being abandoned as recession bites deeper and bills soar.

This is the sad fact revealed by end of year figures from Britain’s equine charities.

Redwings received reports of 67 abandoned animals in December 2010, up from 16 in the same month in 2009.

Calls are increasing not only from the public, but also from councils and the police, who are finding dumped horses on council and private land.

“This is likely due to the low value of horses,” said Redwings’ Rachel Angell.

“You can buy a pony for less than £5 — we’ve heard of people buying ‘job lots’ and then abandoning some.”

Around 28 horses and ponies were dumped en masse near Pencoed in Wales at the beginning of December. And around 70 abandoned horses were found in Llanelli, Carmarthenshire Council announced on 30 December.

The Horse Trust also witnessed a rise in dumped horses last year, specifcally in Buckinghamshire, spurring them to take in seven for the first time.

“Many simply can’t afford to look after their horse,” said spokesman Liane Crowther.

In December 2009, the RPSCA recorded 72 calls regarding equine abandonments, but last December this was up to 90.

And the Blue Cross is in a similar situation.

“We’ve seen a surge in recent months from people wanting to give up their horses,” said centre manager Vicki Alford.

This news story was first published in the current issue of Horse & Hound (27 January, 2011)