RSPCA faces ‘crisis’ over rise in cruelty to horses

PUBLISHED: 12:00 18 May 2018




The number of horses rescued across Somerset by an animal charity has almost doubled over the past two years.

The RSPCA says it is facing a ‘crisis’ after its latest cruelty statistics found officers rescued 34 horses in the county during 2017, up from 18 in the previous year.

It received 297 complaints about 233 horses during the 12-month period.

A 39-year-old man from the county has been banned from owning horses for life after two horses and a foal were left to starve, while another man was banned from owning the animals for five years after being found fly-grazing on land littered with hazards.

And in recent days Lynda Spalding was jailed for the way she failed to care for two horses (see page 5).

RSPCA inspectorate national equine co-ordinator Christine McNeil said: “We have been talking about the horse crisis for several years now, but the truth is the situation is just as severe today as when it started.

“Last year we took in more horses than we have in the past four years, and with our inspectors being called to rescue more and more every week, we are stretched to the limits.”

Nationally, the number of convictions secured by the RSPCA regarding neglect and cruelty to horses in England has risen by 25 per cent in the past two years.

In 2017, 1,492 convictions were secured under the Animal Welfare Act.

Ms McNeil said: “Up and down England and Wales, horses are being found sick, dying or sometimes dead and it is frequently the case that they have been abandoned and left for dead.

“This is upsettingly very common and it is a massive issue – a very sad one at that.

“We are constantly receiving calls to our cruelty line – on average 80 per day about horses alone – as well as messages every day on social media from very concerned and upset people asking for our help.

“Many of the calls we receive from people concerned about a horse have found them being illegally fly-grazed – where horses are moved from place to place to eat the grass there, often without permission of the landowner.

“We are also frequently called about tethered horses, where the animals are kept secured to a peg in the ground on unfenced land with a rope or chain.

“We do not agree with tethering but sadly there is nothing we 
can do as this practice remains legal.”

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