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Abandoned and starving to death, the horses dumped by their owners because of a slump in demand after horsemeat scandal
Nemo was found in south Wales with ribs poking through skin Eight months on she has made a full recovery thanks to charity Watson was less lucky after contracting skin infection while 'flygrazing' Found with maggots eating his skin and died three days later
By Rosie Taylor and David Wilkes PUBLISHED: 22:51 GMT, 4 October 2013 | UPDATED: 22:51 GMT, 4 October 2013

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Once they were destined for the slaughterhouse. At least there the end would have been swift. Now it is drawn out and agonising. Dumped without food and water by their owners, thousands of horses which would have been sold for meat are instead being condemned to a living hell. Their plight is highlighted in a report by charities and animal sanctuaries, which are struggling with an influx of horses in appalling condition after unscrupulous dealers, hit by a slump in demand following the horsemeat scandal, abandoned them. Take Nemo. She was so emaciated when animal welfare charity workers rescued her that her ribs poked through her coat. She was also lame.

Nemo was just a skeleton when she was rescued but has now made a full recovery

Around her in her muddy field lay the corpses of other horses which had not made it. Rescuers got there just in time for Nemo. With veterinary treatment, she made a full recovery at a sanctuary and eight months on from being taken from that field in Caerphilly, south Wales, she is today a popular addition to HorseWorlds visitor centre in Bristol. But others have not been so lucky. Watson was being flygrazed a practice where owners, often from the travelling community, leave horses to graze on other peoples land without permission on a patch of scrub. In his desperation for food he ate something toxic, leading to a skin condition that left him with burnt-raw pink patches. He was neglected for so long that he also had maggots eating away at his body. Vets battled to save the nine-month-old but three days after he was found in a Bristol field in June, he suffered massive kidney and liver failure and died. In total, some 7,000 horses are considered at risk, according to the report by leading charities including the RSPCA and Blue Cross, with the horsemeat scandal a significant factor, but with over-breeding and the recession also playing a part. Rescue centres have seen a rise of up to 40 per cent in admissions since it was revealed in January that some supermarket food labelled as beef contained horse. Experts say there are owners who let their horses breed indiscriminately then become overwhelmed with the numbers produced.

Watson was left to die after developing a skin condition when he ate something toxic. Sadly he died of kidney and liver failure three days after being found

But whereas the unwanted horses might once have gone to the meat trade, now their owners abandon them rather than pay up to 100 a week to care for and feed them. The Animal Sanctuary, in Dorney, Buckinghamshire, is caring for a third more horses than this time last year and is spending more than ever on vets bills as many arrive in a horrific condition. Head trustee Diana Coad said: Before the horsemeat scare there was, sadly, a trade in horses for meat but now theres no market for them. People dont want to pay to feed them or pay to have them put down, so unscrupulous owners are hiding them away in pockets of land and leaving them to starve very slowly and painfully to death. She said so many horses were arriving on the doorstep they were having to turn them away. In just one day last week we had calls about six separate horses, two skeletal horses were brought to us that we took in, and one horse arrived on a trailer in such a bad state that it collapsed and had to be put down, she said.

Diana Coad head trustee of The Animal Sanctuary in Dorney, Berkshire, says unwanted animals are being hidden and allowed to starve to death by owners who don't want to pay to have them put down

We try to take the worst ones that we can give a chance to and hope the better ones will survive a bit longer. You feel like an executioner having to choose which ones to take, I dont think anyone would like to make that life or death decision. Before the recession, the sanctuary was able to rehome a horse every month but in the last two years it has found a new home for just one pony, as families are choosing cheaper pets. Other animal charities have also seen a huge rise in the number of abandoned horses. World Horse Welfare, in Blackpool, took in 40 per cent more in the first quarter of 2013 than in the same period last year and investigated 22 per cent more complaints about horse welfare. Blue Cross admitted 16 per cent more horses between January and March this year than the year before, with four in ten being admitted for welfare concerns, compared with less than a third last year.


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Comments (119)
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View all Report comment AM, London, United Kingdom, 11 minutes ago They are gorgeous, I'm glad at least one of them made a full recovery!

0 1 Click to rate Report comment Stephen, Lancs, 16 minutes ago Yes it was obvious this was going to happen, but it just shows how much the horse meat trade was motivating the reckless keeping of horses, because they could always be sold for meat. I have direct experience of these horse slaughterers, and if you think the horses they bought had a nice swift end you're kidding yourselves. The high prices for horse meat had been directly encouraging people to raise horses like this.

0 1 Click to rate Report comment framptonite, dorchester, 17 minutes ago I cannot understand why joe bloggs finds it unappetising to eat horse. We eat fluffy rabbits, doe eyed calves, frolicking lambs, and intelligent pigs.We eat beautiful geese, turkeys, ducks and chickens, what is so very different about a horse or donkey? Please tell me...

0 4 Report comment me, nowhere, moments ago I totally agree, and that's why I'm a vegetarian. 0 0

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Click to rate Report comment Colls, dorset, United Kingdom, 17 minutes ago this is disgusting its shocking the type of people we have in this world wonder how they would like to be left starving so wrong poor horses

0 1 Click to rate Report comment Soy Sauce, Midlands, United Kingdom, 30 minutes ago Frankly I couldn't give a toss about horses. I wouldn't wish them any cruelty, but I'm happy enough to eat horse, cow, pig, Lamb, chicken etc. To be honest I'd eat a cat if it's cooked nicely and served me. So it's a shame, but instead of er, flogging a dead horse, why not put some resources into punishing and preventing this cruelty? I'd also like lo salute Diana Coad's magnificent bust, which is both formidable and glorious.

12 2 Click to rate Report comment angeli, LONDON, 34 minutes ago

Bless i am glad that they are ok. Please let us know how we can donate.

0 5 Click to rate Report comment Pi, Meckhah, United Kingdom, 35 minutes ago I would be quite happpy to go round and put them out of their misery. The can then be used as dog food.

8 1 Report comment Helen, Wales, moments ago I would rather try to help them first!!! 0 0

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Click to rate Report comment JaneAnna, Derbyshire, United Kingdom, 37 minutes ago Go to France then you heartless so called human

2 4 Click to rate Report comment JaneAnna, Derbyshire, United Kingdom, 40 minutes ago another heartless so called human, horses are not in the food chain, never should be. What a heartless comment. Why should our animals suffer to feed those who cannot accept family planning and not overbreed themselves

3 7 Click to rate Report comment JaneAnna, Derbyshire, United Kingdom, 41 minutes ago Are you serious? shame on you

3 6 Click to rate The views expressed in the contents above are those of our users and do not necessarily reflect the views of MailOnline.

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