“Redwings is one of my favorite charities in the UK, they do immense work taking care of neglected, sick & abandoned horses; but their name is not as well known as World Horse Welfare etc. I support all equine charities, just wish I could help more. I rescued 1 but can’t take anymore as I don’t have any fields anymore, I now keep mine in full livery (due to my disability) which is expensive, but I know they are well taken care of. I do have several virtual adoptions & fosters, which is a great way to help the charities; without physically having the horses!
Redwings is working alongside other welfare charities to call for government and public help in a landmark report that warns of an impending crisis in England and Wales which could leave the welfare of many thousands of horses at risk.
The report, ‘On the Verge: the approaching Equine Crisis in England and Wales’, predicts that another harsh winter will leave animal charities physically unable to cope and asks what will happen to the increasing numbers of horses being abandoned or suffering from welfare concerns
We are asking the public to rehome more horses; for horse owners to take responsibility for their animals and not pass the problem onto local authorities, charities and landowners; and for the Government and other agencies to meet us halfway and help rein in this problem before another winter of misery for hundreds of horses and ponies.
- All the organisations have seen increasing numbers:
- The RSPCA took in more than twice the number of horses, 304, between April 2011 and March 2012 as it did the previous year.
- World Horse Welfare has seen the numbers of horses taken into its centres rise by 50% from 129 in 2006 to 194 in 2011 and has had to restrict admissions to the most severe cases.
- Redwings has seen a 28 per cent increase in equines being taken in from 2006 to 2011 and has seen abandonments rise from 160 in 2009 to 450 in 2011. So far this year we have had an astonishing 636 horses and ponies reported to us as abandoned up to the end of September.
- Last winter HorseWorld saw a threefold increase in the number of abandoned and neglected horses it rescued, compared with the previous year.
Nicolas de Brauwere, Head of Welfare at Redwings Horse Sanctuary and Chairman of the National Equine Welfare Council, said: “It is an extremely serious state of affairs. In February this year, for example, we had a situation where a group of more than 60 horses and ponies that had been left to fend for themselves in Wales were facing euthanasia by the local authority which had found itself in an impossible situation through the irresponsible actions of a callous owner. On that occasion several charities stepped up at the last moment and offered them a home, but we had to stretch ourselves and our teams to the limit to do so.
“Another case like that may be the final straw, which is why we urgently need the help and support of both the public and the government as this winter approaches.”
Horses are still being bred on a large scale and continue to be imported from Ireland and the continent, despite there being no market for them. This has led to the market becoming saturated, with animals being sold at some markets for as little as £5.
Horses can cost up to £100 per week to look after and in the current financial climate, people try to cut back on vet costs, hoof care and feed. This inevitably leads to welfare problems.
Both factors have led to a visible increase in the problem of fly grazing – illegal grazing of horses on public and private land. Fly grazing is a problem for farmers, landowners and local authorities, and increasingly it is leading to welfare concerns, as too often these owners do not provide basic care for their animals.
RSPCA head of public affairs, David Bowles, said: “We have a perfect storm of horses continuing to be bred and imported to the UK adding to a rising population and people, suffering under the economic climate, cutting back on animal care bills.
“People need to start realising that there is very little financial reward in breeding horses and ponies, especially where there is poor husbandry or the animals have genetic problems. You won’t make your fortune, all you will have is lots of horses and animals on your hands which need feeding, shelter and care and which you will not be able to sell.”
- What the Government can do:
- – The Government should introduce criminal legislation targeting fly grazing – punishing offenders with fines and seizure of horses
- – Introduce legislation or mechanisms to better link horses to owners to tackle irresponsible ownership
- – Increased intelligence-led enforcement of horse imports and exports
- – Review the Tripartite agreement** that allows the import and export of vulnerable horses and ponies into and out of Britain from Ireland and France
- – Encourage responsible breeding through guidance and education
- – More assistance for local authorities including provision of places to keep horses on a temporary basis
- – Improve enforcement and cooperation between enforcement agencies and charitiesWhat YOU can do:
- – The horse owning public can play an important part by keeping on top of their own situation. If you need help, please contact our Welfare helpline on 01508 481008 for advice before the situation escalates into a welfare problem.
- – If you think you could give a good new home to a horse or pony you can view the horses we have available for rehoming here: www.redwings.co.uk/rehoming. The National Equine Welfare Council (NEWC) is a membership organisation for over sixty horse charities and welfare organisations and details of how to rehome a horse from any of its members can be found at http://www.newc.co.uk/
- – Members of the public can also write to their MP (click the link below to send email) and ask them to lobby the Secretary of State Owen Paterson about the national horse crisis and ask him to support tougher laws to encourage responsible ownership and improve enforcement. http://campaign.publicaffairsbriefing.co.uk/emailsupport.aspx?cid=defb0b88-91af-4aab-a047-f6aff6db6c97
And of course, please continue to support us so we can help as many horses as we can, just like those below…and thank you for all your support in the past from everyone here at Redwings. Thank you!
Left on the verge
Horse welfare charities need your help to handle what could become a ‘horse crisis’ in England and Wales.
We are under immense pressure due to the increasing number of horses and ponies needing our help. There are 2,800 equines in our rehoming centres, which are now at capacity, and it is estimated that a further 6,000 horses are at risk in England and Wales. There is real concern that should there be another harsh winter, we will be physically unable to cope with the number of horses needing urgent care.
World Horse Welfare, the RSPCA, Redwings, The Blue Cross, The British Horse Society and HorseWorld are working together with the support of the National Equine Welfare Council (NEWC) to try and overcome this crisis, and have produced a report showing the problem and our proposed solutions, but we also need the support of the horse owning public, government agencies and local authorities.
Please help us by emailing your MP and asking them to support us in dealing with this crisis. We need Government support for the solutions in our report. By contacting Ministers, MPs can use their influence to help us – but we need you, their constituents, to ask them to do so.