RSPCA issues appeal as number of abandoned horses in UK continues to rise

Two horses enjoying their hay breakfast at Hope Pastures equine sanctuary in Leeds.

By Tamara Schofield

THE RSPCA is appealing for new homes for abandoned horses after a sharp increase in the number of animals at its rescue centres.

In 2016 the charity rescued 1,336 and rehomed 254 horses. However, the year before fewer were rescued –  1,106 – but more of these, 427, were found new homes.

Lucy Cooper, RSPCA national press officer, said: “We suspect the number of horses rehomed was lower last year because we are taking more young horses, and those that are in really bad states of neglect, so these take longer to rehabilitate before they are able to be rehomed.”

The RSPCA is urging anyone thinking of buying a horse or pony to consider the long-term commitment required to properly care for an animal.

Before getting a horse, people must consider if they have the time and money to care for the animal 365 days of the year for the next 10-20 years.  Factors to consider include: feeding and exercise, daily grooming and on-going costs such as vets bills and registration fees.

Fostering is also an option which will help to create more new homes for horses in need of rescuing. It can also help to improve the welfare of sensitive horses and ponies that struggle to cope in an often-busy animal centre environment.


One-to-one care in a foster home can offer certain horses with specific needs – such as recovery from a veterinarian procedure or behavioural issues such as a lack of trust or confidence – a chance to recover in a routine-based, loving setting.

Volunteer Sarah feeding the Shetland ponies some carrots which had been kindly donated by a member of the public.

The charity is specifically appealing for people with any of the following skills: handling a younger horse, providing essential care for a mare and foal, or experience of bringing on underweight horses.

If you would like to find out more about rehoming or fostering a horse visit the RSPCA website.

A local Leeds sanctuary Hope Pastures rescues, rehabilitates and re-homes horses, ponies and donkeys in need.

Jax Gibson, Hope Pasture’s part-time assistant manager, said: “Sanctuaries are stretched for places, this had led to horses having to be put down on rescue sites as there just is not enough room for them. We try to keep our quarantine pen free but we have one young horse, Faegan, who is there for the next 21 days.”

Section 9 of the Animal Welfare Act states that an owner has a duty of care to meet the needs of their animals, but sometimes this is not always possible.

Noticeboard at Hope Pastures advertising its open days and facts about equines


Hope Pastures is also appealing for volunteer helpers or people willing to give a rescue horse a forever home. The sanctuary is reliant on public donations to exist.








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