THE RSPCA has launched an emergency appeal to find foster homes for young horses.
The animal charity is currently looking after 600 ponies and horses which have suffered neglect and cruelty and almost half of them are youngsters.
To tackle the growing horse crisis the RSPCA has launched the Stable Future appeal to find fosterers to temporarily look after some of the 270 youngsters which are too young to be ridden.
There are currently 38 youngsters (aged one to three) in the East region.
Sally Learoyd, the RSPCA’s equine rehoming officer, said: “Over the past year we’ve seen a huge increase in the amount of horses being disowned or allowed to get into an appalling state because the trade in horses has collapsed.
“I’ve heard of young horses being sold for £5 – less than the price of a bottle of wine. I’ve heard of horses being bought and sold in pubs and we’ve come across a case of someone keeping a horse on a tower block balcony and feeding it on kitchen scraps.
“We have a never-ending tide of young horses coming into our centres. Fostering our youngsters is a way that horse lovers can help us with this problem.”
The recession, rising hay costs and irresponsible breeding are thought to be to blame for the rising number of horses being neglected and abandoned.
In 2011, the RSPCA dealt with 116 complaints regarding abandoned horses in the East region alone.
They face a huge £3.2 million bill just to care for the influx of ponies and horses which does not include vet bill or prosecution costs.
To help ease the crisis, the RSPCA are urging horsey heroes to foster one of their youngsters until it is old enough to be prepared for work and they can find it a new home.
Sally said: “Fostering is a great way for people to have the enjoyment of being around youngsters whilst helping us out in the short-term.
“Just like teenagers, these young horses need experience of life, a day to day routine and a guiding hand. Being a fosterer is a really rewarding experience. You can see these youngsters’ personalities change and develop as they grow.”
There is an array of youngsters in the East region looking for foster homes, among them is Womble who was found collapsed in a field with his mother when he was just five months old. He was so skinny his spine and hips were sticking out. He was taken into RSPCA care and has been nursed back to health. Womble is now 18 months old. He is getting used to being handled and needs a patient and gentle foster home to continue this good work.
The youngsters available for fostering are aged between one and three and are all happy, healthy and handleable. They are microchipped, will have passports and tetanus vaccinations.
Foster carers must have experience handling horses, grazing and be able to take in a youngster for a minimum of six months.
To apply log onto www.rspca.org.uk/stablefuture or call 0300-123-8000 for an application form.
Animal lovers who can’t take on a foster horse can also help by donating spare tack, rugs and equipment to the RSPCA or making a donation to our equine centres. Log onto the website to find out how.