Flooding and heavy rainfall have caused further misery for horse owners over the Christmas period, with sodden fields, manèges and, in some extreme cases, submerged stable blocks.
Statistics from the Met Office show that 2012 was the second wettest year according to national records for the UK, which date back to 1910. April and June were both the wettest on record.
The persistent wet weather resulted in total 2012 rainfall for the UK of 1,330.7mm — just 6.6mm short of the record set in 2000.
Dawn Webster from Cavendish Bridge Farm in Derbyshire was flooded twice in December, causing chaos and costing her thousands of pounds.
“The water just started coming up in the fields, but we had no flood warnings in place so assumed it would all be OK,” she said. “But suddenly the fields and manège were 3ft under water and it was rising fast.
“It then floodedthe stableyard, so I had 37 horses to move — and it’s not that easy to relocate, especially with show horses and a stallion.”
She added that her food and hay supplies were ruined.
“We had no electricity, all my leatherwork was ruined — everything was trashed. There was raw sewage everywhere so the place needed disinfecting. And then the horses had been back a week when it happened again,” she said.
“It’s cost me a fortune — I had to pay landowners for space, diesel to travel [the horses] and all the lost gear and my insurance doesn’t cover any of it.”
And World Horse Welfare told H&H it has seen a rise in calls during the bad weather.
“We received noticeably more calls in December, but we are trying to reassure people that there is rarely a risk to welfare, so long as there are drier patches in the field and fresh food and clean water are regularly provided,” said the charity’s Tony Tyler.
“Owners need to use common sense and move their horses to safer, drier ground or bring their horses into stables, just giving limited turnout if at all possible.
“But if this is not an option they can sometimes help reduce the problems by putting straw down and temporarily fencing off particularly wet areas.”
The charity is also struggling with the wet weather at its Glenda Spooner Farm Rescue and Rehoming Centre in Somerset.
Several fields are under water, or are so waterlogged they cannot be used.
“Springs are popping up, causing damage to tracks, and we had a landslide in our outdoorschool. All of this will need to be repaired,” said farm manager Claire Phillips.
This news story was first published in the current issue of H&H (10 January 2013)