In line with the predictions of this year’s equine crisis report, the HorseWorld Rescue Season has started early this year. We are investigating more welfare concerns than ever before.
A year ago in October 2012 the major equine rescue and rehoming organisations in England and Wales released a report showing the immense pressure they are under due to the increasing number of horses and ponies needing their help. The organisations warned that, should there be another harsh winter, they will be physically unable to cope with the estimated 7,000 horses that are defined as being ‘at risk’. At the time, Director of Welfare Jerry Watkins told the BBC that “we are being inundated with abandoned horses which people can no longer afford to keep. The economic downturn is a contributing factor, people aren’t buying horses yet the breeders continue to breed for a market which no longer exists. A horse can be bought for £5 in some places, the same price as a hamster”.
Two winters ago HorseWorld rescued 25 horses, last winter that number tripled and 87 horses were rescued. Leading up to this winter and ‘rescue season’ these figures are expected to rise dramatically.
As the nights draw darker and winter approaches HorseWorld have already been involved in more rescues to date than previous years. HorseWorld’s team of dedicated and professional staff have just returned from the “worst rescue in the most imaginable conditions”.
Director of Welfare Jerry Watkins received a call to say him and his team were needed in South Wales to assist the largest rescue of not just the year but in the history of HorseWorld rescues. At a site in South Wales (which cannot be specifically named) there was 437 horses. These horses were all extremely emaciated, malnourished and completely abandoned in fields of thick slushy mud.
Unable to find food or water these horses had very little hope of survival without human intervention. Many mares had suffered miscarriages which were caused from the level of distress they were in and many foals had been born to mothers who couldn’t provide any nourishment or basic care for them.
After assessing the scene, it became very apparent that this field had become a mass-grave. Corpses lay still in thick mud surrounded by equines trying to survive the awful conditions. This rescue had very quickly turnt into a 3 day mission to save any horses well enough to survive a 4 hour journey to a secure yard in a secret location.
However, not all of the horses counted in the field pulled through and over 100 equines had to be put to sleep. This decision was not taken lightly, but it became clear as the team assessed each horse individually that a number of the horses were in such a state of suffering that there was only one option for them.
A total of 340 horses were moved to a secure yard where they will be treated and looked after. Sadly, a handful of horses were lost in transit and did not make the journey. On-going aftercare is a costly process and can cost up to £100 a week per horse. These costs include veterinary assessments and treatments, seeing a farrier, treatments from the dentist, feed, hay, bedding and of course the endless attention and love from the grooms involved.
Read more at: http://www.horseworld.org.uk