The RSPCA says there is a record number of abused, neglected and abandoned horses and ponies across the Midlands, - but it is more of a mixed picture locally.

Recent RSPCA figures show there has been 38 per cent increase over five years in the number of horses having to be rescued in Worcestershire.

In 2008, eight horses were rescued, compared with 11 in 2013.

But the picture is brighter over the border in Herefordshire.

In 2009, five horses were rescued in Herefordshire, but none had to be rescued in 2013.

Both counties compare well with Shropshire, where the number of horses rescued, from 2009 to 2013, rose 800 per cent, - from just four cases to 36.

Inspector Cathy Hyde, who heads a specialist team of equine officers, said : “Over the past five years there has been a marked and very worrying increase in equine neglect and abuse. This is witnessed on a daily basis by frontline staff.

“This disturbing trend in neglect seems to be affecting equines more than any other animal that we deal with.”

She added: "Inspectors are seeing more large groups of horses which aren’t even being given the very basics - food and water."

As a result, the Homes for Horses campaign is being launched to find loving homes for hundreds of RSPCA rescue horse and ponies.

Abigail Moon, the RSPCA’s rehoming operations manager, said: “Even though we are rehoming record numbers of horses and ponies we are rescuing more and more each day and still have hundreds looking for fantastic new owners."

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