A massive rescue operation is underway in Buckinghamshire today, to remove 84 horses, ponies and donkeys from a location where 32 equines have already died.

The rescue, from an address in Amersham, Buckinghamshire, is being carried out by the RSPCA, Thames Valley police, the International League for the Protection of Horses (ILPH), the Horse Trust, Blue Cross and Redwings Horse Sanctuary.

The equines were discovered by the RSPCA on Friday 9 January. While 31 animals were found dead in a field, three were destroyed as they were considered too ill to be moved or rehabilitated. They are described as being emaciated, deprived of food and water, with overgrown feet and possibly suffering from infectious diseases.

Fourteen horses were removed over the weekend. The ten young colts and geldings, one blind mare, four donkeys and a foal were taken to the Horse Trust’s Home of Rest for Horses for emergency treatment at the weekend.

According to the Trust, they were found tied up in small pens and standing in their own excrement. All were grossly emaciated and had been deprived of food and water for some time. At the moment the animals are too scared to be treated by a farrier.

“They are already responding to treatment and we are seeing progress on a daily basis,” said Horse Trust chief executive and vet Paul Jepson. “We have taken nasal swabs from all the animals to exclude the possibility of infectious diseases.”

Today, 30 staff from the police and charities have been working to remove the remaining 84 horses. They will be cared for by Redwings, the Horse Trust, the ILPH and the others by the RSPCA.

The RSPCA has launched a full investigation, and a man has been arrested on separate police charges.

Read the full story in next Thursday’s Horse & Hound (17 January, ’08)