Whilst the nation has been shocked to learn of the extent of the horse meat scandal, for many months the UK’s leading equine charities have been working to raise awareness of a major crisis facing our nation’s horses and ponies. As an animal lover, and President of The British Horse Society, I feel compelled to write to you about the unprecedented and deeply worrying set of circumstances that are facing our horse population and to ask any of your readers who have the time, knowledge and resources to do so, to consider rehoming a horse from a charity.
Information gathered by a number of major equine welfare charities (including The British Horse Society, Blue Cross, Horseworld, RSPCA, Redwings and World Horse Welfare) shows that, as I write, at least 6,000 horses are at immediate risk of needing to be rescued or given new homes. Sadly the true figure is likely to be far higher. Welfare charities would not be able to cope if even a fraction of this number needed their help – there is simply not enough room in their centres. We need the public’s help more than ever to find new homes for rescued horses. Every rehabilitated horse that can be rehomed from a charity centre frees up a space for another one to be taken in and given the urgent care that it needs.
There are many reasons why our charities are having to help such huge numbers of horses. Decades of unchecked and indiscriminate overbreeding has left us with more horses than the country can cope with. The problems of overproduction have been exacerbated by several years of a difficult economy meaning many people are now unable to afford to keep what can be expensive animals. We have seen an upsurge in horses being abandoned and a visible increase in the problem of fly grazing, the illegal grazing of horses on public and private land.
As someone who has rehomed a horse myself, I know how rewarding the experience is and I would encourage anyone who can to look to a welfare charity for their next horse or pony. There are so many advantages to rehoming over buying, not least the wonderful advice and support that our charities offer, and you know that you will be helping to transform their life. You can rehome from a wide range of charities – see www.newc.co.uk.
We are facing a very real problem and we cannot ignore it. I would be grateful for any assistance that you can give us in raising public awareness and any of the charities involved would be delighted to provide you with further information.
President of The British Horse Society