Video report by Natasha Potts.
The RSPCA in Cumbria say they are facing a crisis, where they are struggling to find homes for hundreds of abandoned and mistreated horses.
In 2019, the charity received reports of more than 5,236 incidents involving horses in the north of England, 479 in Cumbria, and by the end of the year it had nearly 900 in its care nationally, leaving its rescue centres full and funding hundreds more in private boarding.
Horse welfare charities are already under immense strain, following the horse crisis which was sparked off by the 2008 financial crash and the RSPCA say they are worried that another recession will make the problem worse. Currently they estimate that 7,000 horses could suffer nationally.
horses in RSPCA care in 2011
horses in RSPCA care in 2020
This is a truly worrying time for equine charities - we still haven’t got a handle on the repercussions of the current horse crisis, and it now looks like the worst is yet to come.
The current horse crisis is thought to have been sparked by continued overbreeding, coupled with falling demand for some types of horses.
This left a surplus of unwanted animals which have been left abandoned, sometimes extremely sick or dying.
The charity is asking the public for donations to help fund the influx of horses it expects. It costs £5,200 to look after a pony for a year, over £4.8m in total annually.
They are also asking people with experience of looking after horses to consider adopting.
Christine McNeil, from the RSPCA, said: "The public’s help is absolutely vital to keep the RSPCA afloat during this extremely difficult time. We can’t stress how much we need loving homes for our horses and ponies, and we are urging those with experience of horses to please consider re-homing one of our wonderful rescue horses.
"Last year, we re-homed 242 horses and ponies to loving new homes, with many going on to become superb children’s riding ponies, happy hacking horses, fantastic project youngsters, and wonderful retired companions.