Snetterton charity World Horse Welfare in New Year warning

National equine charity World Horse Welfare has warned of a tough winter ahead for horses across the country in the annual Christmas message, delivered by chief executive Roly Owers from the charity's Snetterton HQ.

'As we head into the depths of winter, World Horse Welfare estimates that there are 6,000 horses at risk in England and Wales. This is reflected in the fact that we have taken in 50pc more horses since 2006,' he said.

'We've been working with several other charities to highlight this growing equine crisis, both to public and to government. One of the biggest problems we find in our day-to-day work to help horses, is being able to link a horse to an owner.'

To counter this problem, Owers urged the government to act to help stop flygrazing and improve owner traceability of horses as well as encouraging those who can offer a good home to a rescued horse to do so now, enabling even more horses to get the care they need. The Christmas message also extends to other problems faced by horses, including disease control and the charity's long-fought aim to ban live transportation of horses for slaughter.

'The number of horses suffering horrifically on long distance journeys across Europe to slaughter has decreased significantly,' said Owers. 'We estimate over the past decade that numbers have reduced from 165,000 to 65,000.'

The charity says that figure is still far too high and vowed to continue to work relentlessly to put an end to the long distant transportation of horses across Europe to slaughter.

It's not all doom and gloom – the Christmas message looks back at 2012's equestrian calendar and draws attention to the Olympic and Paralympic Games and the Diamond Jubilee celebrations. Important milestones for World Horse Welfare are referenced, including the incredible new indoor arena and visitor centre in Scottish Rescue and Rehoming Centre Belwade which the Princess Royal, President of World Horse Welfare, officially opened in September.