The RSPCA is preparing to care for hundreds of horses over Christmas as it expects to take in more equines than ever before.
The charity remains in “the midst of an ongoing equine crisis” with high numbers of horses being neglected or abandoned.
Some 868 horses were in the charity’s care on Christmas day in 2017, up from 608 in 2016, and the charity expects this figure to continue to increase this year with 895 horses already being in its care by the end of October.
RSPCA equine welfare expert Mark Kennedy said: “We receive around 80 calls a day about horses to our 24-hour emergency hotline and are always being asked to help horses in dire need. As soon as we rehome a horse we have another horse in need entering our care.
“The poor economic climate, over-breeding, the high cost of vet care and falling prices for horses have all contributed to the crisis – and with the poor harvest this summer and associated increases in forage, bedding and feed costs we expect even more horses will need our help in the lead up to Christmas.”
In 2017, the charity took in more horses than it had in any of the past four years.
These included Adie, a youngster found “on the brink of death”, who
was rescued by the charity on New Year’s Eve 2017 after he was discovered collapsed in a field in Kent by a dog walker.
Adie needed months of “round-the-clock care and rehabilitation to get him back on his feet”.
Francessa from Essex, who rehomed Adie, said: “Adie’s the most wonderful horse, I feel lucky to have him. The moment I met him was very special – he chose me that day.
“After spending some time with him on the yard, I went to put him back out into the field and he followed me around the paddock, walking up the fence line with me, it was such a lovely moment as we had really bonded. The grooms said they hadn’t seen Adie so relaxed around a new face before, and I had to have him – he’d chosen his new mummy.”
Another pony the charity has helped is Brave, who was found on a disused golf course with another pony, Fergus.
RSPCA inspector Nikki Cheetham said: “I was expecting the rescue to be really difficult but, as soon as we arrived at the course in Bradford it was clear these ponies wouldn’t be giving us the run-around.
“Both of the ponies were severely underweight and incredibly weak, and Brave had extreme rain scald all over his body. It was the worst I’d ever seen in a horse.”
A dog-walker and local rider helped rescue the youngster, who was found lying in the mud, unable even to lift
Nelly was rescued after being abandoned on grassland
If you want to keep up with the latest from the equestrian world without leaving home, grab a H&H subscription
The two-year-old has made a fully recovery and is ready to find a home.
“Brave looks amazing. When I first saw his transformation I felt really emotional — it’s incredible to see the difference in him,” said Ms Cheetham. “Brave is a wonderful pony. He’s a pleasure to handle, has a lovely temperament and is easy to catch in the field. It would be such a wonderful end to his story to find him a loving new home in time for Christmas.”
The charity said it expects more than 10,000 animals to be taken into its care this winter.
For all the latest news analysis, competition reports, interviews, features and much more, don’t miss Horse & Hound magazine, on sale every Thursday.