A record number of horses and ponies are being abused, neglected and abandoned in Lancashire, a charity warned.
Now the RSPCA has launched a campaign to find homes for all of them.
Last year, the charity rescued 44 animals in Lancashire, up from 16 in 2009 – a 175 per cent increase.
It received a total of 611 calls, up from 544 in 2009, a 12 per cent increase.
Charities including the RSPCA are in the grip of an equine crisis as falling horse prices over the past five years, combined with rising feed and care costs, have led to thousands of horses being neglected, dumped and in some cases left starving to death.
RSPCA chief inspector Cathy Hyde, who heads a specialist team of equine officers, said: “Over the past five years there has been a marked and very worrying increase in equine neglect and abuse. This is witnessed on a daily basis by frontline staff.
“In 2009, we were removing on average two horses a day. What is most shocking is that we are now removing on average five horses a day.
“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 large groups of horses which aren’t even being given the very basics – food and water.
Among the rescued horses were Dan and Alex, who escaped from a field of poisonous plants in Lancashire.
The ponies had overgrown feet, didn’t appear to have water even though it was a hot day and were living in a field in Blackpool dotted with ragwort.
The pair are now being cared for at a boarding establishment near Hull.
To find out more visit www.rspca.org.uk/homesforhorses.