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The RSCPA is warning the public not to buy horses or ponies as Christmas presents if they haven’t thought carefully about the future.

RSPCA Cymru is urging people to consider the long-term commitment required to properly care for a pet.

As Christmas draws near the RSPCA is advising people who are thinking about buying a pet as a present, to take into account whether the recipient has the time and money to care for the animal 365 days of the year for the next 10-20 years.

“Unfortunately we have heard of cases in recent years involving horses or ponies being bought as presents,” said RSPCA inspector Neill Manley.

These ponies may be bought for as little as £10 and sometimes the people that get them simply do not have the finances or facilities to keep them properly.

“We have seen cases in Swansea where ponies end up tethered inappropriately and potentially are at risk from many different hazards.

“As well as the welfare issues the horses are most often fly-grazing as they are not there with the permission of the landowner.”

In Swansea tethering is an issue. Although not illegal the RSPCA does not recommend the practice.

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“We are constantly dealing with horse welfare issues and we are doing all we can to reduce the tethering of horses in Swansea and we regularly work alongside Swansea City Council,” added inspector Manley.

“When investigating calls of concern about tethered horses the RSPCA uses the Welsh Government, Code of Practice for the welfare of equines.

“Even when tethered in the short term, many tethered horses do not meet the minimum standard laid out in the codes of practice and owners run the risk of falling foul of the law.

A project is now running where tethered horses are being proactively looked at with the aim of reducing this inadequate and antiquated practice, that to many people is simply out of place with modern times.

“Under the Animal Welfare Act owners have a legal duty of care to meet the five welfare needs of their horses at all times. Those who tether a horse could be in breach of the Act if it means that the animal’s basic needs are not being met. If a horse needs to be tethered in order to have access to grazing, it must only be for short periods of time. For the remainder of the day the horse should have access to shelter, and a space to run free and interact freely with other horses.”