Last year may have been memorable in terms of equestrian sporting excellence, but it was a particularly tough 12 months for equine welfare charities.

Bransby Home of Rest for Horses received 156 horses and ponies through its gates in 2012 — the highest number in its 45-year history.

The majority of cases arriving at the charity’s two centres in Herefordshire and Lincolnshire were rescued from situations of neglect, cruelty and abandonment.

Among last year’s rescue cases were a pony with a maggot-infected wound caused by an embedded rope, three obese Shetlands abandoned and suffering from laminitis, 43 cobs abandoned in Wales, and seven mares removed from Appleby horse fair.

Bransby works with other charities and organisations across the UK to assist with horse rescues, and it has provided advice, support and encouragement to improve the welfare of equines without the need for rescue.

Bransby’s Head of Equine Operations Philip York said: “Although rescue is a vital part of our job, we also work hard to help many owners find solutions that allow them to carry on caring for their horses at home. This means precious space at the charity can be reserved for animals most in need, where other options aren’t available or haven’t worked. To take on more animals than we can realistically care for would be disastrous.”