Charities worried about ‘horse crisis’

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Charities have reiterated the need for help from the general public regarding the future of some 6,000 or so horses in the UK, some of which may have to be put down if the growing crisis isn’t quelled.

It is thought that thousands of equines will need the help of charities this winter. However, organisations all over the country are close to capacity and are desperate for people to take out horse insurance and care for a beast in the coming weeks.

Faced with this extreme situation, there is a possibility that some local authorities may have no choice but to cull some of the neglected fly-grazing horses on their land.

This issue first arose earlier in the summer as the RSPCA held an equine summit for welfare groups to get together to try and get to grips with the growing crisis.

Chief inspector of the National Equine Welfare Council said at the time that the root of the problem comes from unruly people selling horses for as little as £1. As a result of this, buyers are more likely to get bored of the animals – if they even know how to take care of them properly in the first place.

Chairman of the charity Nicolas de Brauwere even said that the whole country is currently “being deluged by horses left, right and centre”.

Speaking to the British Equine Veterinary Association (Beva) two weeks ago, chief executive of the World Horse Welfare Roly Owers said charities were well aware that local authorities might be forced to put down beasts, but remain determined to prevent that from happening.

He has since told Horse and Hound: “There are horses that are at significant risk. They are already on charities’ radar, and we [the charities] are working with their owners. But if we have a hard winter and just a fraction of them need intervention, we will be swamped.”

In June, the news provider reported a worrying number of dead foals in south Wales and concerns that colt foals – who have the lowest value to buyers and sellers – were being dumped at an alarming rate.

While there is grazing areas for these animals, a long and cold winter could be absolutely disastrous for them.

As a result of this situation, charities are hoping that members of the general public will be able to help ease the strain on these organisations and offer facilities for some horses.

The idea of culling is not a new one, as two years ago, some Irish politicians called for a one-off cull of any unwanted and unsaleable ponies. This was met with a sad resignation in the country but has not yet happened.

However, it is thought that within just a few months there may be no choice in the matter in the UK.

Newly appointed Beva president Keith Chandler believes that overproduction of poorly-bred horses is one of the chief reasons for this current crisis and is something that needs to be addressed urgently.

“Charities cannot be expected to give all these horses a home,” he said.

Chief executive of the Horse Trust Jeanette Allen didn’t want to think about the possibility of a cull, but added: “There is an impending crisis – there are no two ways about it. As a sector, we are still talking about what we can do to move forward.”

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