Yesterday (26 September) we and Redwings Horse Sanctuary carried out a day-long joint operation to remove a group of 46 horses from a field where they were at risk of suffering.

Alton foal

RSPCA Chief Inspector John Harrod and Inspector Claire Crowther met with Hampshire police, Redwings vet Nic De Brauwere and their round-up team at the site off New Odiham Road in Alton, Hampshire at 8am.  Hampshire Trading Standards have also been working on the issue and joined us at the location.

Both us and Redwings had received concerns about the welfare of the animals. After attempting to contact the horses’ owner and improve the conditions in the field, we had to take the decision to remove them as they were beginning to suffer from various conditions.

All the horses were hungry, lethargic and depressed

The field had hardly any grazing and some of the horses were very thin as a result.  Some of the horses were emaciated, one was suffering from scouring and was in a very poor condition and all of them were hungry, lethargic and depressed.

There had also been concerns that as the horses became hungrier they had been escaping onto the road in search of food.

Chief Inspector Harrod said:

“This situation had reached a point where we had to remove the horses as they were becoming more and more hungry and were at risk from escaping onto the busy road.


“There are many areas where the RSPCA receives calls about horses and ponies left without adequate grazing, but in most cases we are able to work with the owners to try to improve the situation.  Here we could not find anyone responsible for the horses so we had no choice but to remove them to safeguard their welfare.


“This is part of an ongoing issue we have with horse welfare, mainly caused by irresponsible ownership and a lack of microchipping which is a legal requirement but which is often not carried out.


“The animals will be rehomed if we cannot find an owner for them so at least then they will have a chance at a happier and healthier life.”

They would not have survived the winter

Redwings Head of Welfare and Senior Vet, Nic de Brauwere, said:

“The horses were getting hungrier and hungrier and were repeatedly trying to break through the surrounding hedges because they were so desperate for food.  Some of them are so thin they would simply not have survived the winter without our help. We just had to intervene.”

The horses, which included 14 foals, will be cared for at a location on our behalf and receive veterinary checks and treatment if necessary. Eight of the horses in the poorest health, including five foals, will go to Redwings and the others will continue to be cared for on our behalf until an owner can be traced or new homes found.

Can you help?

Anyone with information about the owner of the horses should contact the RSPCA inspector appeal line in confidence on 0300 123 8018.

Horse crisis

We and Redwings worked with World Horse Welfare, the BHS, Blue Cross and The Horse Trust on a report into an impending horse crisis, caused by factors including a rise in the price of hay, a fall in the price paid for horses at market, lack of neutering causing horses to breed indiscriminately and irresponsible owners who don’t provide their animals with enough food, water or shelter.

The report can be found here:Left on the verge – In the grip of a horse crisis

We can’t do it without you

To help the RSPCA carry out more rescues like this, please donate online or text HELP to 78866 now to give £3 (Text costs £3 + one standard network rate message).