HORSES and ponies are being abused, neglected, and abandoned in record numbers - with the second biggest increase in rescues being reported in North Yorkshire, the RSPCA says.
The numbers of horse, ponies, and donkeys saved by the charity in the county rose by 1,033 per cent in a table only topped by Northumberland which recorded a 1,100 per cent rise.
Falling horse prices, combined with rising feed and care costs, have led to thousands being dumped or left to starve to death.
In North Yorkshire, the charity was called out 805 times to deal with reports of such cases in 2013 compared to 633 times in 2009.
The call-outs led to 68 animals being rescued last year. In 2009, the figure was only six.
One rescued was Cracker Jack, a 14-year-old piebald gelding found tethered in a muddy ditch by a busy main road in York with no food or water. Heavy traffic was thundering by and the tethering chain had got so tangled up Cracker Jack was unable to move.
A veterinary examination revealed his feet were in poor condition, he had worms and was very territorial over his food.
His owner was convicted of welfare offences and banned from keeping horses for five years. Cracker Jack went to the RSPCA’s specialist equine centre in County Durham for rehabilitation.
Lisa Marshall fell in love with Cracker Jack when she spotted him taking part in the RSPCA Rescue Pony of the year class in Peterborough.
RSPCA staff managed to arrange a home check of the Marshall’s field in Hull in record time and Cracker Jack went home with his new family
In The East Riding, the number of call-out fell one per cent, from 366 to 361 in the period. But the number of actual rescues was up 364 per cent from 11 to 51.
RSPCA chief inspector Cathy Hyde, who heads a specialist team of equine officers, said: “There has been a marked and very worrying increase in equine neglect and abuse.
“What is most shocking is that we are now removing on average five horses a day."
The Homes for Horses campaign is being launched to find homes for the hundreds of victim of the equine crisis.
Abigail Moon, the RSPCA’s rehoming operations manager, said: “Even though we are rehoming record numbers of horses and ponies we are rescuing more and more each day.”
To find out more visit www.rspca.org.uk/homesforhorses