A good Samaritan who tended an unknown dying horse has sparked a massive Facebook campaign to save a group of neglected horses on a Leicestershire floodplain.
The page “Help the horses of Fosse Park” has gathered more than 19,000 likes in the past 24 hours.
Farrier Mark Johnson had been concerned about the welfare of this group of horses in a large area of land near Fosse Retail Park, Leicester, for some time.
However, when he drove past on Saturday (15 February), he noticed a horse lying down in floodwater (above).
“That seemed strange, and when I went to investigate, I also saw the corpse of a foal,” Mark told H&H. He then called the RSPCA.
“The fire brigade was fantastic getting the horse on to dry land, but sadly the horse’s state was too severe and it was euthanased.”
Mark posted on Facebook the video and photos that his son Harry had recorded.
“The problem has been there for a while, but my one hope is that through these 2 dead horses we can get the rest moved and legislation changed so that horses cannot be treated like this. It’s a permanent flood plain, their hay is only fit for burning and the fencing is horrific.”
Since the photos were posted, Facebook administrators have been deluged with offers of stabling, hay and assistance to help.
One administrator, Sarah Anne Mickleburgh, is restarting Leicester Horsewatch. A follower has already pledged £140 to pay for the Horsewatch website.
“These horses have been on and off this land for years, but it’s only because Mark went to check the dead horse out that it’s raised awareness that we can do something,” Sarah Anne said.
But she advised other wannabe good Samaritans that the matter is “now in the right hands, through the correct channels”.
The RSPCA, Trading Standards and Melton Police are all involved.
“We don’t want people feeding the horses, or going down there to help because it will cease to be a welfare case,” she said. “People must stay off the land, or they may be guilty of trespass or theft.
The RSPCA has been blamed for insufficient care on social networking sites, but Sarah Anne and Mark defended the organisation’s current activity. The field is owned by Everard Brewery and let out to an undisclosed tenant. The RSPCA is in contact with the owners and monitoring the situation.
“The location is not ideal due to recent flooding, but the horses are kept on a huge area of land and have areas of dry land they can move to freely,” said an RSPCA spokesman. “The owner attends and provides extra hay. [We] cannot just remove horses if there are no legal offences broken.”
Tony Tyler, deputy chief executive of World Horse Welfare — which has attended the site — said there are “thousands” of Fosse Park situations across the country due to the atrocious weather and the horses are the owner’s responsibility.
“This case has been handled throughout by the RSPCA, which gave strong advice to the owner 2 weeks ago,” he said. “The other horses seemed in reasonable bodily condition, which makes it difficult to force owners to improve conditions.
“Charities must work within the law, and they cannot seize animals even from a flooded field if dryer areas are accessible to them.
The owner removed the decomposing carcass this morning (Monday 17 Feburary).