The RSPCA has said it fears a "horse welfare catastrophe" because of the upcoming economic downturn.
The charity has confirmed that during the lockdown period from March 23 - September 8 it dealt with 214 "incidents involving horses" in County Durham and 4,479 in the UK overall.
This statement comes in the month that microchipping of horses becomes compulsory but the charity still believes this may not be enough to deal with the issue.
While it rehomed 242 horses last year, 760 remain in its care. During the last recession, in 2009, the RSPCA had 250 horses in its care, rising to almost 1,200 by 2013.
The charity is expecting more horses to be abandoned or neglected as a result of the pandemic and the economic downturn. It is urging people who are looking to take on a horse to think about adopting one from the charity.
Chris Sherwood, Chief Executive of the RSPCA said:
Mr Sherwood also said that the RSPCA welcomes the change in the law to make microchipping of all equines mandatory irrespective of age, as it is for dogs, but warned the move was not enough alone to tackle irresponsible breeders.
He pointed out that local authorities - which are in charge of enforcing equine identification rules - are also struggling financially.
The charity’s rehoming campaign Adoptober has been launched, with staff keen to showcase the versatility and capability of the horses they rescue.