THE RSPCA has revealed that it dealt with 114 incidents involving horses in Greater Manchester during the Covid crisis.

Despite the now compulsory microchipping of horses, charity bosses do not believe it is enough to stem an impending horse welfare catastrophe.

As the charity launches its month-long rehoming drive, Adoptober, it reveals that nationally the number of horses in its care is already three times what it was at the start of the last recession in 2009, and said it is braced for huge numbers of abandoned and neglected horses as the country plunges into an even deeper financial downturn.

During the lockdown period of 23 March to 8 September alone, the RSPCA dealt with 4,479 incidents involving horses - including 114 in Greater Manchester.

Last year (2019) the charity rehomed 242 horses, but almost 760 remain in the charity’s care to date, desperately needing new homes.

At the time of the last recession, the RSPCA had 250 horses in its care in 2009, but following that downturn, numbers peaked at nearly 1,200 in 2013.

The RSPCA is expecting more horses to be abandoned or neglected as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic and the deepening recession and is urging people who are looking to take on a horse to think about adopting one from the charity.

Chris Sherwood, Chief Executive of the RSPCA said: “Equine charities fear that autumn will create the perfect storm as grazing decreases, the end of furlough and the deepening recession will see more owners struggling with costs of care leading to neglect and abandonment, yet people have been continuing to breed horses despite Covid.

“Alongside this, equine rescues, already reporting a sharp drop in funds, may start to go under as the financial situation bites, which will increase the burden on the RSPCA. We are calling on the Government to step in with financial support as they have for other charities affected by the pandemic and recognise that the vital services provided by the animal welfare sector are under huge strain.”