World Horse Welfare launches TV appeal after damning figures confirm depth of horse crisis


World Horse Welfare launches national TV appeal to highlight the impact of neglect and abuse that horses suffer as damning figures confirm depth of horse crisis.

Herbie is picture of health after rehabilitation

The appeal entitled ‘How could anyone?’ encourages more people to support our work at a crucial time, just as World Horse Welfare announces a 40% increase in the number of horses rescued in 2013.

Last October multiple charities warned the public and the government that a horse crisis was looming with 6,000 equines at risk. After a second review, we have identified that this number has risen to 7,000 in just six months.

The warning came with a worrying statement from charities saying: ‘We will not be able to cope with this crisis alone.’

Our Chief Executive Roly Owers says: “The purpose of our appeal is to raise awareness of the scale of this challenge faced by charities across the board.

“Our recent stats show that the horse crisis is well and truly upon us, as we witness more and more cases like the one featured in our TV appeal coming into our centres on a regular basis.

“We envisage that through our appeal; we will encourage new supporters to help us save more horses like this from a life of misery.”

We already have 320 horses in our direct care and continue to see a stark increase in the number of equines coming into our four rescue and rehoming centres.

Our efforts to rehome as many rehabilitated horses as we could during April’s Rehome a Horse Month is part of a strategy to promote the benefits and importance of taking on rehabilitated horses.

A drop in rehoming figures showed that this year 32% fewer horses were rehomed compared to 2012.

World Horse Welfare would always encourage the public to rehome rather than buy, so that space can be freed up in the centres for those in desperate need of our help.

We also report an increase in the number of reports about fly-grazed horses and ‘multiple’ cases that need help, where more than 100 horses can be found in one group owing to indiscriminate breeding.

Our Field Officers have investigated 22% more welfare concerns in the first quarter of this year (577) compared to 474 in 2012 and an additional 66 concerns in conjunction with other organisations.

Of the 85 extra horses that we've taken in already this year, 38 are prosecution cases, meaning that we cannot attempt to rehome any of these until the case has a solid verdict - sometimes this can take years.

With funds and space limited, help is needed from all sides in order for us to continue to deal with the rising number of cases that are coming into the farms every single week.

That’s why we've taken the next step and released an appeal that tells the story of 20 horses rescued from a life of misery.

We believe that the public need to know the extent of this crisis and so release just one of the horrific cases that our charity deals with on a daily basis – the case of Herbie and his friends.

Wading through thick, putrid mud and living amongst nails, broken glass and jagged metal had been the only existence that many of the 20 ponies had ever known.

World Horse Welfare Field Officer, Chris Williamson was first at the scene.

He says: “These horses were living on a dumpsite; there was rubbish, bits of scrap metal, derelict vehicles, cranes and nails sticking out everywhere I turned.

“When I found a mare and her foal locked inside a container, I just couldn’t believe it. They had obviously been in there for quite some time; they were covered in faeces and the debris that had been dumped there.”

The group consisted of mares, nine stallions and youngsters, they were a mixture of Shetlands and other native breeds that had been living in dangerous and squalid conditions for many months.

The stallions had been left to fight each other and breed indiscriminately with the mares, many of which had foals at foot and were pregnant again.

Chris says: “One of the ponies was lagging behind; he was really struggling to put his foot to the floor – there was something drastically wrong."

Herbie when we found him

“On closer inspection we found that the poor thing had a four inch nail embedded in his foot, if it had not been removed - we would have lost him.

“We took action as necessary and removed all of the horses and ponies from the site into the care of World Horse Welfare. If we hadn’t got there in time - there would have been fatalities.”

We gave the two-year-old skewbald Shetland stallion his identity and he is now known as Herbie around the farm. Today he stands on all fours perfectly and leads a happy life with his rehomer.

All but one rescued from this horrific case of horse neglect and abuse have been rehomed over the years, but all 20 can finally look towards a happy future thanks to the work that we do here.

Sadly, this case is just one of many and we hope that through this public appeal, people will understand that these horses need our help, now.

Please help us save hundreds more horses out there that are suffering right now by calling 0800 035 4120 and donating just £2 a month, because these horses can’t help themselves.