The Horse Crisis

The Horse Crisis in the UK comes in many guises and examples; one of the worst we have come across being:

The “Killing Fields’ of Kent:

At her side were a Police Officer and Inspector from another charity. The field of death had some 120 dead and decomposing horses littered in woodlands. There were horrific scenes of horse cruelty in a graveyard. 63 suffering horses died in her arms or were euthanised by vets. 86 were rescued alive. In-breeding meant that the problems were out of control. This was a 2 year saga of death and cruelty. A lady called `Gill` stepped forward and supported Jane’s plight. We would like to thank her for her devotion as we cannot publicly say for safety reasons who this lady really is. As many as 40 horses may be buried in the `field of death` – if you look this up online you can see the article to this case – Immense suffering and barbaric deaths. We wanted to introduce you to the crisis that lead to the formation of Kent Horse Rescue. To this day threats from the owners of these horses is a concern to us and yet we continue our mission.

Legality is paramount in our work and every single rescue or a multiple rescue is logged with all the relevant agencies, and carried out in accordance with the appropriate legislation, codes of practice and protocol. A Police CAD reference and a paper trail is always used. The only safe way to secure a horse that is rescued for life is through legally correct procedures. You may see that some charities do not work this way which can often lead to ill feeling amongst one another. Our voice on the matter is to respect legality and serve the voiceless horses, and to speak the truth regarding cruelty to horses in the UK.

The Horse Crisis Problem

The country is currently in the grip of a horse crisis with the RSPCA and other horse welfare charities struggling to cope with the numbers of abandoned, neglected and abused horses.

Dead, dying or severely mistreated horses and ponies are littering the countryside after being discarded by callous owners – and there are barely the resources available to cope with the aftermath – trying to save many of these animal’s lives, let alone to tackle the issue head on and deal with the root causes and perpetrators of such crimes.

Scenes of horses rotting alongside fly-tipped litter have become sickening sights for Police, RSPCA inspectors and charity workers dealing with the horse crisis. Other horses are left without adequate food or water, with infestations of lice, worms, etc, and never to be seen by a vet. Others are left illegally tethered by the road or fly grazing on private or publicly owned land.

Animal charities are at the sharp end of the plight of these gracious animals, in a society that appears blinded to their neglect.

The cost of dealing with these cases is high, and proportionally very high compared to the other two animal groups that suffer significantly; dogs and cats. Depending upon the nature of a horse abuse case, the responsibility for resolving (and costs) may lay with any one of several agencies or authorities; from the Police, to Local Authorities, Trading Standards, RSPCA, Private Land Owners or the horse Owner – and often many of them have inadequate resources (nor sometimes the inclination). Very often the responsibility for the welfare and rescue of the horse/s in a case will be passed from one agency to another (even though legislations in place made the demarcation for action and responsibility very clear for all cases), and/or an agency will respond by ‘monitoring’ the situation (often too little, too late), with the result that the suffering continues far too long, the health of the horse may decline to the point of death or to the point where the only option is to euthanise the poor horse/s.

If dealing agencies responded more quickly and decisively (with a clear understanding of how to implement the laws and regulations that support them), then many more animals will be saved from such appalling treatment – This is where Kent Horse Rescue can assist (with your help) – we can respond quickly, decisively, in full accordance with and protection of the law, informing, mobilising and working in co-operation with the appropriate authorities.


There is great unrest over the way current equine legislation is not being enforced. For example, by law, all horses over six months are required to have a passport and microchip but current regulations are not being resourced and therefore not enforced. DEFRA withdrew funding for the National Equine Database (database of Horse Passports) in 2012, and it was only after being charged by EU ruling to fund an adequate register that this is being actioned (although the deadline set by the EU courts has passed, and DEFRA have not committed to a date by which the database will be live).

[Horse Passports and Microchipping were introduced following the 2009 horse meat scandal, in order to prevent horse meat from entering the human food chain – but there are glaring holes in the UK implementation of this, and in the will of local authorities / trading standards to prosecute offenders].

Whilst legislation has been updated to tackle other issues e.g illegal Fly Grazing, (example: Animals Act 1971 as updated by the Control of Horses Act 2015) rarely has legislation been implemented to date, and even more rarely are offenders brought to justice – again due to lack of financial resources?

What to do if you have a concern or emergency to report, or need advice: