Sick horses dumped as Hampshire becomes ‘equine crisis’ hotspot

The RSPCA says the lockdown economy spells bad news for horses

MORE sick horses will be dumped in an equine crisis “second wave” in Hampshire if the country plunges into an economic recession, the RSPCA has warned.


The animal charity said “the worst is yet to come” following 635 equine incidents in the county over the past year, making it one of the UK’s hotspots.

Equine welfare groups were already under strain prior to the coronavirus crisis. With a recession a distinct possibility, the RSPCA is appealing for donations to help it prepare for an influx of horses and ponies in need of help.

Christine McNeil, RSPCA national equine inspectors co-ordinator, said: “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.”

In 2011 the RSPCA had 290 horses in its care – more than its official stables could host. By March 2012 the number was 600 and it currently has 927.

It spends approximately £5,200 per year for the care of each horse taken in, more than £4.8m annually.

Continued overbreeding and falling demand for types of horses have left a surplus of animals, some of which have been “dumped like rubbish” and sometimes extremely sick or dying, the RSPCA said. Equine charities are “bursting at the seams” with abandoned animals.

The RSPCA fears a financial crisis will cause irresponsible horse breeders to produce more in a bid to turn a quick profit, while existing owners will struggle financially to keep their animals and cover vet bills. Some could even abandon them out of desperation, it adds.

It has been working with other groups, including the British Horse Society and the Donkey Sanctuary, and rehomed 21 horses in the lockdown, compared to 56 in January and February.

Ms McNeil said the public’s help was “absolutely vital”, adding: “We can’t stress how much we need loving homes for our horses and ponies and are urging those with experience of horses to please consider rehoming one of our wonderful rescue horses.”