THE RSPCA has revealed it was called to 55 incidents involving horses in Warwickshire between March and September.
The charity says it is bracing itself for an influx of sick and abandoned horses due to the pandemic as owners will no longer be able to afford their care.
Nationally the number of horses being looked after by the charity is already three times what it was at the start of the last recession in 2009, and it is braced for huge numbers of abandoned and neglected horses as the country plunges into an even deeper financial downturn.
RSPCA chief executive Chris Sherwood said: “Equine charities fear that autumn will create the perfect storm as grazing decreases, the end of furlough and the deepening recession will see more owners struggling with costs of care leading to neglect and abandonment, yet people have been continuing to breed horses despite covid.
“Alongside this, equine rescues, already reporting a sharp drop in funds, may start to go under as the financial situation bites, which will increase the burden on the RSPCA. We are calling on government to step in with financial support as they have for other charities affected by the pandemic and recognise that the vital services provided by the animal welfare sector are under huge strain.”
It comes after it became compulsory last month for all horses to be microchipped.
But the charity says around 70 per cent of the horses it rescues are not chipped.
Chris added: “When it came in for dogs, the number of strays reduced by 20 per cent in four years, but unfortunately we just don’t think that’s going to happen for horses. Without rigorous enforcement and tough financial penalties, there is little to stop irresponsible horse owners continuing to breed and dump their animals.
“Local authorities, who are in charge of enforcement of equine identification regulations, are already operating with extremely limited resources and are facing the huge challenges of covid, the recession and Brexit.
“The RSPCA and other equine welfare organisations have been struggling to pick up the pieces of the horse crisis since the last recession and as we enter what could be the biggest financial downturn of a generation, the sector is already bursting at the seams and facing unprecedented challenges due to the pandemic.”
The charity is appealing to experienced horse owners across England and Wales to consider rehoming a rescue horse if they can.
Visit www.rspca.org.uk to find out more about the horses available for adoption or fostering.