Berkshire

Berkshire animal lovers 'keeping abandoned horses alive'

Abandoned horse in a filed in Hampshire
Image caption Many horses are abandoned because their owners don't want to pay for their upkeep

Volunteers in Berkshire have said they are rescuing or supporting a growing number of neglected and abandoned horses.

The UK has been going through an "equine crisis" with large numbers of horses abandoned across Britain, the RSPCA has said.

The charity received 22,046 complaints about horse welfare in England in 2014.

New legislation to make it easier for animals to be seized came into affect in May last year.

'At bursting point'

The Control of Horses Act 2015 - introduced to deter owners from "fly-grazing" (illegally grazing) or abandoning their horses on public and private land - has made a difference in certain parts of the country, the RSPCA said.

Local authorities have the power to seize horses grazing illegally.

But animal lovers in Berkshire said they have had to step in to help "keep horses alive".

Image caption Rescue volunteer Kim White has helped horses across Berkshire and nursed them back to good health

One Berkshire resident, who did not want to be named, said she has supported more than 60 horses in the past 12 months, including the rescue and rehoming of a number of animals.

She said she complies fully with the Control of Horses Act.

"I take it upon myself to feed and water the horses... to keep them alive.

"There are little pockets of people like me who do this because we don't want to see them dead." she added.

In March 2015 a small group helped rescue 20 abandoned horses from a field in Binfield.

Image caption "We get calls from across the country, but we can't rescue them all," volunteer Kim White said

Volunteer Kim White, who assisted with the rescue, has started Saving Abandoned Fly-grazing Equines (SAFE) - a group rescuing abandoned horses.

She said the current situation has "gone mad over the past month".

SAFE currently has seven rescued horses but wants to do more, Ms White said.

The group relies on donations from the public.

"We get calls from across the country, but we can't rescue them all" she added.

Tony Tyler, deputy chief executive of World Horse Welfare, said the charity's centres were at "bursting point" but urged caution to anyone thinking of taking a horse they believe had been abandoned.

Anyone with a horse welfare concern should get in touch with their local authority, Sean Murphy from West Berkshire Council said.

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