Opinion Former Article

Number of horses in RSPCA care doubles in 12 months

Could you give a young horse a Stable Future?

The RSPCA has launched an emergency appeal to find foster homes for hundreds of young horses as the number in our care has doubled in the past year.

We are currently looking after 600 ponies and horses which have suffered neglect and cruelty and almost half of them are youngsters.

To tackle the growing horse crisis the RSPCA has launched the Stable Future appeal to find fosterers to temporarily look after some of our 270 youngsters which are too young to be ridden.

Sally Learoyd, the RSPCA’s equine rehoming officer, said: “Over the past year we’ve seen a huge increase in the amount of horses being disowned or allowed to get into an appalling state because the trade in horses has collapsed.”

Young horses being sold in pubs for pocket money prices Sally added: “I’ve heard of young horses being sold for £5 – less than the price of a bottle of wine. I’ve heard of horses being bought and sold in pubs and we’ve come across a case of someone keeping a horse on a tower block balcony and feeding it on kitchen scraps.

“We have a never ending tide of young horses coming into our centres. Fostering our youngsters is a way that horse lovers can help us with this problem.”

The recession, rising hay costs and irresponsible breeding are thought to be to blame for the rising number of horses being neglected and abandoned.

One of the youngsters in the RSPCA’s care is Little Ted* (pictured above) who was found emaciated and collapsed in a stable and nursed back to health by the RSPCA.

The RSPCA has found new homes for a record number of horses over the past year but we simply cannot keep up with the flood of animals which need our help because of terrible neglect and cruelty.

We face a huge £3.2 million bill just to care for the influx of ponies and horses which does not include vet bill or prosecution costs.

What you can do to help

To help ease the crisis we are urging horsey heroes to foster one of our youngsters until it is old enough to be prepared for work and we can find it a new home.

Sally said: “Fostering is a great way for people to have the enjoyment of being around youngsters whilst helping us out in the short-term.

“Just like teenagers, these young horses need experience of life, a day to day routine and a guiding hand. Being a fosterer is a really rewarding experience. You can see these youngsters’ personalities change and develop as they grow.”

Liz Handford, from Carmarthenshire (pictured), has fostered five horses for the RSPCA. She said: “It’s very rewarding. If you’re fostering, you just get the fun part; it’s all about playing and having fun with the horses.

“You get the pleasure of having young horses around; seeing them, grooming them and watching them develop. It’s a real privilege and a pleasure.”

The youngsters available for fostering are aged between one and three and are all happy, healthy and handleable. They are microchipped, will have passports and tetanus vaccinations.

Foster carers must have experience handling horses, grazing and be able to take in a youngster for a minimum of six months. To apply log onto www.rspca.org.uk/stablefuture or call 0300 123 8000 for an application form.

Animal lovers who can’t take on a foster horse can also help by donating spare tack, rugs and equipment to the RSPCA or making a donation to our equine centres. Log onto the website to find out how.



Notes to editors: Interviews, case studies and photo/filming opportunities can be arranged at any of RSPCA’s specialist equine centres, Felledge in Durham, Gonsal Farm in Shrewsbury or Lockwood in Surrey. Please contact the press office.

· The RSPCA has 594 horses and ponies in its care compared to about 290 in April last year - 266 are youngsters.

· We have seen an increase in the number of equine convictions, calls to the RSPCA about abandoned horses and amount of welfare advice being given out by our inspectors.

· The RSPCA rehomed 240 horses last year – 50 per cent more than the previous years.

· *Little Ted was previously called Star

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