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The coronavirus lockdown has caused a surge in abandoned horses and ponies in the UK as owners and welfare organizations struggle to pay for their upkeep.

The number of abandoned horses and ponies in the UK has tripled since the recession last year, and it’s feared the situation will only get worse due to the ongoing coronavirus. Adding to this, a recent survey revealed that almost two-thirds of equine rescue centers have seen donations plummet by more than half since the start of the pandemic.

Privately, many equine owners are struggling financially to keep their animals and continue to pay for food and vet bills, resulting in these owners abandoning their animals out of desperation.

A major animal charity in Britain has already rescued over 900 stray, abandoned, or dumped horses – around 70 percent of them were not microchipped. Although new rules making it compulsory to microchip all horses and ponies came into place recently, many owners have still not done so which makes it hard to track the abusers.

They have also attended to more than 2,000 equine incidents. Among these was a dying foal thought to have been dragged off the back of a vehicle. The poor baby was left for dead and had wounds on her body and face which were infested with maggots.

Without rigorous enforcement and tough financial penalties, there is little to stop irresponsible horse owners from continuing to dump their animals.

“In June, welfare organizations predicted that the numbers of abandoned ponies and horses would rise as a result of the coronavirus global pandemic, and sadly their predictions have come true,” said David Barritt of Network for Animals (NFA).

“Months into the COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions, and equines are in absolute crisis. With such a huge number of horses in the care of welfare organizations, and so many others in private boarding, who knows how bad the situation will be by the end of the year?”



NFA is doing all it can to help alleviate the suffering of equines and assisting equine welfare charities under massive strain by providing vital donations to help these organizations cope with the influx of horses and ponies desperately in need of help. If you would like to assist, please contact NFA on, or find out how you can support our work.


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