A film telling the story of an abandoned mare and two foals has been produced by World Horse Welfare to highlight the plight of dumped horses.
The mare, Rhoswyn, was found in an emaciated state nursing her own foal, Orlagh, and an orphaned foal, Zoe, on a Welsh hillside in February.
“Under veterinary advice we were able to move Rhoswyn and two youngsters but some of the group were just too weak and in such poor condition that the kindest thing to do was put them to sleep,” said the charity’s field officer Tony Evans.
“It is scandalous that the owner of these horses abandoned them giving them little change of survival, with absolutely no regard for their welfare or the law, and was able to get away with it unpunished since there was no way of tracing them.”
The two foals are making good progress at the charity’s Somerset rescue and rehoming centre, but Rhoswyn had to be put down.
Claire Phillips, manager of the Glenda Spooner farm rescue and rehoming centre, said the foals are building up their strength.
“Orlagh, who we believe to be just six months old, has made friends with another filly, 10-month-old Crystal, who is playing the perfect big sister role,” she said.
“They play beautifully in the paddock and come in for mid-morning “baby nap,” snuggling down together in one of our crew yards.”
The film has been made to highlight the need to educate more owners about their responsibilities and provide more effective laws to help protect horses.
“This seemed a very sad but appropriate opportunity to show people the terrible impact that this kind of irresponsible ownership has on horses, as well as the reality faced by our staff who work so hard to help these animals in desperate need,” said Roly Owers, chief executive of the charity.
“This video is very upsetting but it is the stark reality of the current UK horse crisis,” added Roly.
“Yes, we do get very emotional, even angry, at times. But we use this feeling to drive us to do more, to help more horses, to educate more owners about their responsibilities and to provide more effective laws to help better protect our horses. Our supporters are critical to achieving this impact and we hope this short film will encourage others to join us. Together we really can make a huge difference.”
In May tougher new laws are due to come into force to address fly-grazing in England and Wales but Mr Owers said they “will be worthless unless they are used by landowners.”
He said there are still too many landowners who will not take action when horses are left on their land.
But the ultimate responsibility is with the owners. World Horse Welfare wants “a robust system of equine identification so that owners who abandon their animals to fend for themselves can be held accountable.”