THE NUMBER of horses and ponies rescued by the RSPCA in the Vale of Glamorgan has increased by 400 per cent in the last five years in what the organisation calls an “equine crisis”.

It comes after figures released by the RSPCA showed that the number of calls in the Vale of Glamorgan rose by 32 per cent from 74 in 2009 to 98 in 2013, while the number of horses and ponies rescued increasing by 400 per cent from two in 2009 to 10 in 2013.

The RSPCA has launched a campaign to find homes for a record number of abused, neglected and abandoned horses and ponies.

Charities, including the RSPCA, are in the grip of an equine crisis as falling horse prices over the past five years, combined with rising feed and care costs, have led to thousands of horses being neglected, dumped and in some cases left starving to death.

RSPCA figures from the past five years also show:

? The number of horses rescued by RSPCA inspectors in Wales has increased fivefold during the horse crisis (2009 - 2013)

? Swansea has seen the biggest increase in the number of horses rescued - an incredible rise of 1,289 per cent and Swansea was also the area in Wales with the most equines rescued last year

? The number of calls from Wales to the RSPCA from people complaining about equine welfare has increased by 60 per cent during the horse crisis (2009 - 2013). The most calls in 2013 came from Carmarthenshire

? At the start of the horse crisis the RSPCA was rescuing one horse every eight days in Wales - now it’s at least one every other day on average

? The rehoming rate for England and Wales has doubled but the organisation still has 900 neglected, abused and abandoned horses in its care. For every horse in one of its centres there are seven waiting for a place

RSPCA chief 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.

“In 2009 we were removing on average two horses a day. What is most shocking is that we are now removing on average five horses a day.

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

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

Chief inspector Hyde added: “I remember a major issue in Wales in 2013, where we dealt with a group of 300 sick and neglected horses and ponies. It was horrendous, something that I will not easily forget and I fear we will have to deal with something similar again in the future.”

The Homes for Horses campaign is being launched to find loving homes for hundreds of

RSPCA rescue horse and ponies.

A series of open days is being held at RSPCA centres to showcase rescue horses and ponies, or to find out more about rehoming visit

To support the campaign text HORSE to 70111 to give £3