A dying pregnant mare was dumped on the roadside on Monday (20 February) in a “desperately sad” case.
The RSPCA is investigating after the piebald horse was found abandoned in Orsett, Essex.
Officers were called and arrived to find her already dead by the busy Brentwood Road.
“The heartbreaking sight of this mare was reported to us yesterday morning by concerned passers-by,” said RSPCA inspector Rebecca Benson.
“All the evidence points to her being still alive when she was dumped, and in the process of giving birth, but although I got there as soon as I could after we were called, she was already dead.
“We think she was probably abandoned in this sensitive state overnight the night before, perhaps to avoid getting expensive veterinary treatment.
“The poor mare would have been alone, in pain, and frightened by the traffic passing on the road, so close to her face.
“We don’t know if it was complications with her pregnancy which killed her, but it is desperately sad that she was left without any veterinary care in such an exposed spot and when she was at her most vulnerable.
“Sadly we see far too many cases of dead and dying horses dumped in this way during the winter months.”
In 2016, the RSPCA received over 72,000 calls about horses to its cruelty and advice line, and took 1,336 horses into its care.
The charity believes the main two reasons for the ongoing horse crisis are the recession and overbreeding.
“Prices for horses have dropped significantly, while horse owners are having difficulty rehoming their unwanted horses and, increasingly, cannot even give them away,” added an RSPCA spokesman.
“Equally, horses can be very expensive to keep and we believe some people decide to callously abandon their poorly horses instead of pay for veterinary treatment, which is very worrying.
“Owners who are struggling to care for their horses are urged to contact the RSPCA or other horse welfare charities for advice and assistance rather than dump their animals in a dying state.”
The charity is urging anyone with any information to contact them by calling 03001238018 in confidence.