Page last updated at 11:31 GMT, Tuesday, 7 April 2009 12:31 UK

Horse rescues 'more than double'

Genie is the 100th horse to be rescued in 2009 by Redwings

The UK's largest horse sanctuary has released figures showing the number of rescues has more than doubled.

Redwings in Norfolk took in 102 horses in the first three months in 2009, with two foals born to rescued mares.

In the same period in 2008 the figure was 38, which included 23 from a high profile rescue in Buckinghamshire, and in 2007 15 were taken in.

The sanctuary said it believed the harsh weather and economic situation played key factors in horse neglect.

'Really suffered'

Redwings head of welfare, Nicolas De Brauwere, said: "There is no doubt that this past winter has been much more difficult for horses than in recent years.

"Food has been scarce, ponies have experienced severe cold and this harsher climate also means they become more susceptible to disease.

"Whereas in a milder winter these equines may have just scraped by, this year they have really suffered."

Horses taken in by Redwings in 2009 included several large welfare investigations and rescues carried out in Essex, Wales, Hertfordshire and Norfolk.

More than 60 of the equines taken in were rescued in partnership either with the RSPCA or the Welsh local authorities.

The World Horse Welfare charity says the number of people taking on rescue animals is down by a third

Redwings has more than 1,000 equines on the site and about 500 living with foster families.

World Horse Welfare, based at Snetterton in Norfolk, is appealing for experienced owners to re-home a horse having also experienced an increase in horse rescues along with a drop in re-homing applications.

So far the charity has rescued 45 horses compared to 30 in the same period in 2008.

Deputy chief executive Tony Tyler said: "The Animal Welfare Act is a hugely positive step for horse welfare.

"But in the current economic climate we have been faced with a problem.

"What we are finding is that people are less inclined to take on the expense of having a horse and we have seen our re-homing figures drop dramatically."

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