The RSPCA has been forced to step-in and rescue a group of wild horses that were at risk of drowning in Christchurch, Dorset.

On Friday (3 January) the charity initially herded the horses to a small area of dry land with the intention of moving the horses to complete safety the next day.  However, the horses were spooked and ran back into the deep water.

The next day RSPCA officers used a boat and worked for several hours in fast flowing chest-deep water to round up the wild cobs.

A row has broken out between the RSPCA and local people who witnessed the rescue, with each accusing the other side of spooking the horses and exacerbating the situation.

Christchurch flood horsesThe horses were eventually driven into a corral with food and water so they could be transported away. The owner of the horses arranged for a livestock trailer to take the horses from the flooded field. However,  the RSPCA deemed that it was unsuitable.

A member of the public then offered to help transport the horses from the flooded field. On Sunday (5 January) 3 horses were successfully loaded into a lorry and taken to another field.

An attempt was made to load the 4 remaining horses into another trailer but the horses broke free and walked through the flood water into a field where they used to graze.

Christchurch Horses 70114During the escape a man was cut on the head by a falling gate, while a female RSPCA inspector was also forced to dive to the floor to avoid being trampled.

The escaped horses have been checked over by a vet and are safe and well. A discussion is now taking place with the owner to decide where the horses will be moved to.

The RSPCA’s Kevin Degenhard said: “These officers did a fantastic job in a very difficult situation.

“Many of these officers were off-duty and had given up their time to help save these horses. We rely on the dedication and professionalism of these officers to make operational decisions under challenging circumstances this like.”

For a full report into the devastation caused by the recent gale-force winds and heavy rain don’t miss this week’s Horse & Hound — out today (Thursday 9 January)

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