Blue Cross says it has seen 28% increase in cases involving young equines being admitted to its centres in Oxfordshire and Staffordshire this year.

Animal charity Blue Cross said it has seen a 28% increase in the number of welfare cases involving young horses and ponies being admitted to its centres this year, leading it to urgently seek experienced temporary homes for the youngsters so space at the centres can be saved for the further welfare intakes anticipated this winter.

One Blue Cross case, Emmett, was less than a year old when he rescued as part of a large operation by the RSPCA in January 2012. He was severely malnourished and suffering from strangles as well as a lice infestation when he arrived.According to the organisation, 55 of the 197 horses admitted to its centres in Oxfordshire and Staffordshire this year have been under the age of four, an increase of more than a quarter. In addition, the charity has witnessed what it calls a “dramatic” rise in the number of in-foal mares and mares with foals at foot being admitted to its centres, having already taken in 13 this year.

Blue Cross says the figures reflect the concerns voiced by a collection of charities, including itself, over the increasing numbers of horses and ponies needing help. The organisations – also including World Horse Welfare, the British Horse Society and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals – have warned if the winter is harsh, they may be unable to cope with demand.

Manager of the Rolleston, Staffordshire, Blue Cross rehoming centre Kath Urwin said: “That such high numbers of youngsters are being admitted as welfare cases is particularly worrying. From responsible breeding to rehoming rescue horses, everyone has a part to play in helping to turn around this alarming trend.”

To ensure there is enough space at its centres to take in welfare emergencies this winter, Blue Cross is seeking experienced temporary homes for 23 youngsters until they are old enough to be backed either in the home or at the centre, as well as eight mares with foals at foot.

Ms Urwin said: “If you have the facilities and knowledge to help us you might also be interested in our foster care scheme that uses suitable volunteers to provide short-term respite care for some of our horses and ponies.”

The charity will provide support, guidance and training for foster carers, and will reimburse for costs.

To find out more, visit Blue Cross’ website.

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