The British Horse Society (BHS) has announced that its welfare and rescue centre in Oxhill, Warwickshire will close in September.

The centre, which was opened in March 1999 by Princess Anne, will close to allow the society to refocus its welfare efforts on educating owners.

When it opened Oxhill provided accommodation for up to 38 ponies and horses and had the facilities to care for and retrain animals that had been neglected or ill-treated.

The centre currently has 21 horses in its care all of which will be foundhomes before its closure.

No new welfare cases will taken in by the centre, instead they will be dealt with by regional centres. The society will continue to work closely with other welfare organisations such as the RSPCA.

Wendy Peckham, media and public liaison manager for the BHS said: “This was not an overnight decision and we are aware that it is a slight change of policy, however the centre costs a huge amount of money to run and we believe that this re-direction of funds will be more gainfully employed elsewhere.

“We want this change to be positive and will now place our emphasis on education and guidance. We currently get around 400 calls a week, mainly from first-time owners needing help and advice.”

BHS chairman, Pat Campbell, said: “By focusing our attention on prevention of neglect and raising welfare standards we will effectively reduce the number of welfare cases, so negating the need for rescue.”

The four members of staff who work at Oxhill were informed of the decision as soon as it was announced and plans are being made to try and find them other jobs elsewhere within the society.