The BHS has been working to highlight the UK’s unprecedented equine welfare crisis. The 2013 “On the Verge” report (pdf) published by the BHS and other leading charities, highlighted 7,000 horses known to be at immediate risk.
That's only half the story. This 7,000 includes horses in large groups. It doesn’t include the odd ones and twos dotted around. The truth is we don’t know how many more are out there. But we do know that if the weather turned and we had 7,000+ horses needing help, it would be impossible to cope.
So what's causing the problem?
Firstly, indiscriminate breeding. There are too many horses and no market for them. If an animal doesn’t sell its cheaper to dump it than continue to pay for its upkeep.
Secondly, the economic climate; everyone has less money and keeping a horse is expensive. If the horse isn’t saleable – perhaps because it is uneducated – then again, it is easier to throw it out than keep paying for it.
How is the BHS tackling this?
We are committed to continuing our vital education work and will endeavour to try to help tackle the crisis in this way. But now it's time to meet Faith, Hope and Charity, whose stories reflect those of thousands of abandoned ponies.
Each was considered disposable. Each was thrown away like yesterday’s newspaper. Each got lucky in that they were found in time. Others are not so lucky.
These mares are young and unbroken but all of them could go on to lead useful, productive lives. But as they stand today they would be very tricky to rehome. They need time and money investing in them, both of which are commodities in short supply.
The British Horse Society believes these mares deserve a chance. They have been appallingly let down by people once in their short lives. When they have regained their health we hope – with the support of our members and wonderful Approved Riding Centres – to turn them into useful animals to secure their future.
If we can give them a job, we can maximise their chances of finding homes and ensuring that they don’t end up as welfare cases in the future. There is the added benefit that as ridden ponies they will be removed from the breeding pool.
Following their progress in British Horse magazine, we've shown the highs and lows of producing young horses properly, the value of correct education and also prove that abandoned horses aren’t the worthless garbage their previous owners threw away like yesterday’s newspapers. With your help, we can prove that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.
It’s vital we get them trained and out into the world as soon as possible so that other ponies can start to benefit from the legacy of this project. They will be trained in BHS Approved Schools to give them the very best start in life.
Let’s tackle the horse crisis together and lead the way. Please donate to help these ponies and others like them.
Meet Faith, Hope and Charity – The flag bearers for the thousands that don’t survive.
Faith was dumped on public land in the South East and left to die. Where she was found is close to a large town and a popular area for young people to hang around away from the eyes of adults.
Faith was discovered being used as a moving target for empty lager cans and cigarette butts. She was terrified and shaking. We don’t know how long that had been going on for, or indeed how long Faith had been scratching around hunting for food alone, unwanted and having to fend for herself.
She has never been as obviously thin and neglected as Hope and Charity but she has had different problems – direct and frightening physical abuse on top of the trauma of being abandoned.
Faith has really earned her name. For reasons that we will never understand she has kept her faith in humans – she would have every right to shy away from us, but her sweet and trusting nature seems to have overcome her bad experiences. She is a lovely stamp and has the potential to be a great pony for somebody. She deserves a chance and we want to give it to her.
Hope was found wandering around a housing estate in Durham. Reported to the RSPCA and The British Horse Society, she was taken into the care of the BHS in a very sorry state.
Her thick winter coat did little to mask how thin she was. Her hind legs were covered in faeces as a result of her dreadful diarrhoea and she was diagnosed with a particularly nasty clostridial infection and severe red worm infestation.
Hope was in such poor condition and so ill that she came within an ace of being euthanased, but there was something about her – hope in her eyes, she was not ready to give up. Looking beyond her distressing appearance it was clear that she has the conformation and potential to be a wonderful pony.
Charity represents another type of abandoned horse. Unlike Faith and Hope who were both found in fairly urban locations, Charity was dumped on Manmoel Common in Wales.
Areas of common land where some people do have legitimate grazing rights are frequently used by irresponsible owners for disposing of the poor animals they see as surplus to requirements. The odd one can be camouflaged among the horses with a right to be there and may not stand out, but the numbers involved are increasing massively and animals are dying. Frequently the dumped horses aren’t the hardy sort who can survive in what can be a very harsh environment.
A significant number of horses died – starved and frozen to death – on Manmoel Common alone last winter – and remember, it was a relatively mild one. But there are plenty of other areas of common land in Britain where the problem is just as bad. Don’t want your horse anymore? No need to be responsible – just throw it out onto a common and don’t look back as you drive away.
As the photos show, Charity did not cope well out on the wilds of the common. Her luck changed when she was taken in by the wonderful Society for the Welfare of Horses and Ponies . Charity was completely unhandled and rather wild when she was rescued and it will take a lot of hard work and patience to help her become the brilliant riding horse we know that she can be.
Donating to help these ponies is easy
Donate to us quickly and safely using the links above, or send a cheque (made payable to The British Horse Society) to the Membership Team, The British Horse Society, Abbey Park, Stareton, Kenilworth CV8 2XZ. Or perhaps you would like to chat to a member of our team by calling 02476 840506 to make a donation over the phone with a credit or debit card?
These ponies have a purpose in life. Please help us to secure their lives.
For more information on the Society for the Welfare of Horses and Ponies, visit www.swhp.co.uk or call 01600 750233.