Credit crunch fear for horse population

Norfolk's horse population may become the latest victim of the credit crunch, it is feared.Two Norfolk-based national charities are bracing themselves for a tough winter as equine owners struggle to pay feed and livery bills.

Norfolk's horse population may become the latest victim of the credit crunch, it is feared.

Two Norfolk-based national charities are bracing themselves for a tough winter as equine owners struggle to pay feed and livery bills.

Officials at Snetterton-based World Horse Welfare and Redwings Horse Sanctuary said they feared an influx of more welfare cases, with more horses being abandoned or neglected as a result of the harsh economic times.

The charities are almost full to capacity and have reported an increase in calls from owners who cannot afford to look after their pets.


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Some elderly equines that cannot be found a new home may have to be put down. Meanwhile, staff at World Horse Welfare are concerned that it is becoming more difficult to rehome rescued ponies, horses and donkeys.

At Hall Farm, Snetterton, it has 30 animals that are ready to move on to make space for RSPCA welfare cases.

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But the organisation has seen a halving in the number of horses being rehomed at its four rescue and rehabilitation centres across the country compared with August and September last year.

The number of admissions at World Horse Welfare rose from 108 by the end of September 2007 to 165 in the same period this year.

Spokeswoman Hannah Rowley said the Snetterton rescue and rehabil-itation centre had capacity for 150 animals and only had eight places left.

She added: “Over the last two or three months we have noticed an increase in calls from people asking us to take their horses because they cannot afford it. The majority of our cases are welfare cases, and we only take private retirement horses in extreme cases, but we are here to offer advice and help and we do say to people that if their horse has a good quality of life they should consider selling it or putting it out on loan.”

The annual bill for keeping a horse is estimated at between £3,000 and £5,000 for feed, livery, veterinary care, equipment and insurance.

Nicola Markwell, of Hapton-based Redwings, which cares for 1,000 horses, ponies, and donkeys, thought some owners might be struggling at the end of the winter.

But she urged them to stay calm and not to take drastic action if they were struggling with the bills.

Horse owners seeking help and advice can can call World Horse Welfare on 01953 497238 or Redwings on 01508 481008.

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