AN animal charity is warning of an equine crisis after revealing it rescued hundreds of horses from neglect and suffering last year.

The RSPCA is urging horse lovers to rehome from it as the 'Adoptober' campaign continues.

In Dorset, the RSPCA was contacted about 415 incidents relating to horses last year, and 22 horses were rescued.

The charity rescued 1,071 horses from neglect and suffering in England and Wales in 2018 and took 30,216 calls about horse incidents across the country.

As part of the animal welfare charity’s rehoming drive, new figures reveal that although 328 horses were found new homes last year, 886 remain in the charity’s specialist equine centres and private boarding stables.

Dr Mark Kennedy, equine welfare specialist at the RSPCA said: "We have been dealing with the effects of the horse crisis for almost seven years now, seeing sick, dying or dead horses up and down the country being neglected or dumped like rubbish.

"It’s heartbreaking that we had to rescue more than 1,000 horses nationally last year. We and other charities are struggling to cope with the large numbers continually coming into our care. We need help from fellow horse lovers."

Over-breeding, the high costs of vet bills, the rising cost of hay and feed and falling demand for some types of horses have all contributed to the horse crisis which has left charities like the RSPCA struggling to cope.

Dr Kennedy continued: "Please consider adopting your next horse from a charity instead of buying.

"Not only does it mean you won’t be inadvertently funding irresponsible breeders and dealers but you’ll be freeing up a space in our specialist centres for another needy horse, helping us as we work to rehome the hundreds currently living in private boarding stables."

The RSPCA has three specialist equine centres in Surrey, County Durham and Kent, which are full with hundreds of rescued horses and ponies.

Many more are being cared for in private boarding stables or looked after by foster carers.

Anyone in a position to offer a home to one of the RSPCA’s rescue horses can visit the charity’s rehoming pages.