THE number of distressed and suffering horses in Wigan rescued by the RSPCA has doubled in the last five years.
And the charity making these interventions believes that the region is in the grip of an “equine crisis” fuelled by falling horse prices over the past five years, combined with rising feed and care costs.
In Greater Manchester as a whole a total of 22 abused or neglected horses were rescued.
There were also 642 calls made to the RSPCA’s hot line from the public reporting suspected horse neglect.
RSPCA chief inspector Cathy Hyde – the former Wigan inspector – now heads a specialist team of equine officers, such is the scale of the problem nationwide.
She said: “Over the past five years there has been a marked and very worrying increase in equine neglect and abuse.
“This disturbing trend in neglect seems to be affecting equines more than any other animal that we deal with.”
She added that inspectors were seeing more and more large groups of horses which aren’t even being given the very basics: food and water.
Last year a Leigh man was jailed by Wigan magistrates for 12 weeks after a particularly appalling case of cruelty.
The bench was told that Alan Brennan had left 17 horses locked in their stables without food and water and wallowing in their own faeces.
The 49-year-old was disqualified from keeping animals for life.