The Longines Royal International Horse Show is taking place in West Sussex this weekend.
It's one of the oldest events of its kind in the world - featuring the stars of equestrian sport, and some of the most enthusiastic amateurs.
Since 1992 its home has been Hickstead, a beautiful backdrop for a sport which shows no sign of dwindling in popularity
30,000 are expected over the four day festival, as Rachel Hepworth reports:
Rachel spoke to Hickstead's Edward Bunn, veteran showjumper John Whitaker and people competing in the amateur events.
The RSPCA has revealed concern about the increasing number of horses who have been neglected and ‘dumped to die’ in Kent this winter.
In what it describes as an 'equine crisis', the animal welfare charity said it has received a spate of calls about distressing equine incidents in the county in the past few months.
Officers have described "heartbreaking scenes" after finding horses - dead or dying - left in terrible conditions by the side of roads, in woodland and sometimes dumped under fly-tipped debris as if they were rubbish.
Of the 38 incidents they have been called to, 13 horses were found already dead, and 25 were collapsed and dying - six in such a poorly state that nothing could be done to save them and 19 able to be rescued, cared for and treated.
The RSPCA is urging anyone who has information about people dumping and neglecting horses to call them on 0300 1234 999, in complete confidence.
WARNING Readers may find the following picture and details distressing:
- A dead horse found dumped in Bull Hill, Horton Kirby, Dartford, on Tuesday, 21 February
- The bodies of two horses found dumped on Beech Road, Kingshill in West Malling on Friday, 17 February - one a year-old dark Bay mare with white socks, wrapped in a blue horse rug in woodland
- A dead horse was tied to a tree by the church in Lamberhurst, Tunbridge Wells on Friday, 17 February
- Six dying horses found in the Dartford area on Thursday, 16 February. As this is an ongoing investigation, the RSPCA cannot provide further details.
- A skewbald mare and her foal were found dumped in Wouldham Road, Rochester on Thursday, 16 February in an extremely poorly state. Both were emaciated and weak. The filly is still in RSPCA care, but sadly the mare died a few days later.
- A piebald horse was found dead and dumped on the side of the road in Eglantine, Horton Kirby on Tuesday, 14 February
- A young piebald pony was found collapsed and dying in Yalding, Maidstone on 28 January. She was so unwell she could not be saved and had to be put to sleep to end her suffering.
- The body of a horse dumped underneath a pile of planks in a field in Horton Kirby, Dartford of wood on 2 January - next to a can of petrol container. We assume that the intention may have been to set the body on fire (pictured). A few days later six more horses were rescued from the same location - all still in RSPCA care.
- The body of the dead pony was dumped on a woodland path is the Wateringbury, Maidstone, in the first week of January
A preview performance of the Royal Windsor Horse Show has been cancelled. The event is part of the celebrations planned by the organisers of Her Majesty the Queen's 90th Birthday Celebrations in Windsor.
The organisers have said that the show in front of a live audience can not take place because of heavy rain. There will be no impact on performances for the rest of the week, but the organisers said that unfortunately they can not offer replacement tickets to anyone who was planning to attend tonight's show because all the other performances are sold out.
Nick Brooks-Ward, Director of Operations for the Royal Windsor Horse Show explains the situation below.
Two horses broke loose after a horsebox was involved in a crash on the M25 in Surrey, leading to tailbacks on a busy summer holiday weekend.
The collision between the horsebox and another vehicle, possibly a white HGV, happened between junctions 9 and 8 at around 9.40am.
Traffic officers at Surrey Police said there were no human injuries. One of the two horses suffered some injuries but was still able to walk.
A driver towing an empty horsebox helped secure the loose animals at the scene as Surrey Police appealed for witnesses to the accident to call them on 101.
When it comes to bashing the bracken - what you need are some hardy horses. And so visitors to a country park on the south coast, will see Exmoor ponies, some Ardennes horses, and wild cattle - all doing their bit for nature conservation.
As David Johns found out, it's all the idea of Hastings Council. Good for tourism, it told us and good for the environment too.
He spoke to horse owner Frankie Woodgate, Murray Davidson from Hastings Borough Council, and Anna Bogg from the Sussex Pony Grazing & Conservation Trust.
A horse rescue centre in Sussex has been given just weeks to find a new home, or it will have to close. If the proprietors at Free Rein Horse Rescue in Beckley don't find new premises, they may even have to put down fifteen horses and ponies. Andrea Thomas has been speaking to proprietor Claire Gerrard.
Anyone who might be able to offer land to rent is asked to call Georgia Brown on 07936 683703 or Claire on 07881 104576 or go to their donation page
In Kent today some of the brightest and best in the equestrian world turned out at the South East's first ever Expo. There were masterclasses and demonstrations to impress the audience at the Kent County Showground.
Andrea Thomas spoke to Equestrian Francesca Sternberg and Para-Equestrian Simon Blight.
Police are investigating after four horses disappeared from a field on Woodhouse Lane in Botley overnight on Friday, February 28th.A padlock holding the gate in place had been knocked off and no reports were received of any loose horses in the area after 4pm.
Officers are investigating whether the animals were stolen. Two of the horses were 12 and 14-year-old geldings respectively. The other two were colt yearlings and difficult to handle. A total value for all four horses is thought to be around £14,000.
A herd of horses have been rescued from flood waters at Christchurch in Dorset. The animals were stranded in a flooded field, next to the fast flowing River Avon. Officers from the RSPCA eventually managed to lead them to safety, in an operation which took several hours to complete.
Officers said the complex operation near Stoney Lane in Christchurch took place in dangerous conditions. It took several hours because the animals, being wild, were uncooperative, but they were all eventually led to safety. The horses have been moved to a dry area with food and water.