Horses becoming victims of the recession
Sam EmanuelHorses are the latest victims of the recession across the region, with growing numbers being put down or ending up at animal sanctuaries because of financial problems for owners.Sam Emanuel
Horses are the latest victims of the recession across the region, with growing numbers being put down or ending up at animal sanctuaries because of financial problems for owners.
With the annual average cost of keeping a single horse running at around �5,000, animal charities in Norfolk have reported a surge in people asking for help.
And the problem could get worse, with the cost of hay and feed through the winter expected to be the breaking point for many owners already under financial strain.
Nicola Markwell, spokeswoman for Redwings Horse Sanctuary based in Hapton, near Tasburgh, said: 'It's hard to know how many horses are being put down because of this problem because it's difficult to get figures from places like abattoirs but we are hearing lots of stories about people having to do this.
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'We've taken in 250 horses this year nationwide, which is 100 more than we would normally take. We normally reserve our spaces for welfare cases, but we have also been getting a lot of calls from people with financial difficulties who ask for our help.
'We can't always take them in because we are full to bursting, but we try to offer advice and tell horse owners about things they can do to reduce costs.'
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The outlook is particularly bleak for older horses, which are proving almost impossible to sell in the current climate.
Pauline Lynch, secretary of Hillside Animal Sanctuary in Frettenham, said: 'We've been receiving up to half a dozen calls a week from people who are struggling. Some people are also wanting to get rid of their horses because they are no longer rideable, which does upset us - they are treating them like used cars.
'We have noticed an increase in the number of people coming to us with problems, some because they can't afford their horses anymore as a result of the recession and some because of a change in circumstances, like a divorce.'
Wendy Valentine, founder of Hillside, added: 'In the last year we have taken lots more horses than we normally do, and I think it's mostly because of the recession.
'We've also had a lot more calls, and people are saying that they can't afford them anymore and need us to take them on. We are always full but in some very urgent cases we manage to wriggle in an extra one.'
Hannah Colbourn, spokeswoman for World Horse Welfare in Snetterton said that while they only took on horses in welfare cases, they had noticed an increase in the number of people calling them for advice.