The RSPCA has launched an emergency appeal to find foster homes for hundreds of young horses as the number in their care has doubled in 12 months.
The animal charity is currently looking after 600 ponies and horses that have suffered neglect and cruelty. Almost half of these horses and ponies are youngsters, the RSPCA say.
To tackle the growing horse crisis, the RSPCA has launched a new appeal – the Stable Future appeal.
Stable Future aims to find fosterers to temporarily look after some of the charity’s 270 young horses and ponies that 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.”
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 RSPCA has said that the recession, rising hay costs and irresponsible breeding are thought to be causing the rising number of horses being abandoned.
One of the youngsters in the RSPCA’s care is Little Ted (pictured) 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 says it cannot keep up with the number of animals referred to them because of neglect and cruelty.
The animal charity says it faces a £3.2 million bill just to care for the influx of ponies and horses, which does not include vet bill or prosecution costs.
As a result, ‘horsey heroes’ are being urged to foster one of the young horses currently in the care of the RSPCA, until it is old enough to be prepared for work.
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.”
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. For more information and to apply, visit the RSPCA Stable Future website 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. Visit the RSCPA website to find out more.