RSPCA Cymru fears a financial recession could leave Wales facing an even deeper equine crisis - with the charity already inundated with calls about horses in need.

Since coronavirus lockdown measures were announced on March 23, the animal welfare charity has received reports of 195 incidents about horses in Wales - prompting fears that worse is to come if an economic recession follows the pandemic.

A total of 11 reports have been made in Powys, on top of 77 reports in the county during 2019.

In 2019, 2,145 equine incidents were reported to the RSPCA in Wales - 10 per cent of all horse incidents brought to the charity's attention; highlighting how Wales is "disproportionately hit" by equine issues.

While lockdown figures are proportionately lower than the previous calendar year; with coronavirus restrictions meaning people are less likely to witness welfare issues, the RSPCA say the latest data is still a "serious cause for concern".

The RSPCA is now appealing for vital donations to help keep its officers on the frontline tending to at-risk horses during the coronavirus crisis, and to prepare it for a possible influx of horses and ponies desperately in need of help.

Christine McNeil, the charity’s national equine inspectors coordinator said: “This is a truly worrying time for equine charities - we still haven’t got a handle on the repercussions of the current horse crisis, and it now looks like the worst is yet to come.

“In Wales, 2,145 equine incidents were reported to us in 2019 - and the scale of incidents suggest Wales is being disproportionately hit by equine problems. The numbers of incidents being brought to our attention during lockdown is also a serious cause for concern. We're now worried that a financial recession could make the problem even worse.

“With such a huge number of horses in our care, and so many in private boarding, at great cost, we have already had to adapt how we try to help as many horses as we can.

“Several ‘herds’ of horses in need are being cared for in situ with our officers visiting regularly to feed and care for them, until we can find spaces in one of our centres for them, or funds to transport them to private boarding."

Continued overbreeding, coupled with falling demand for some types of horses, has created a surplus of unwanted equines.

Threats of a financial recession this year has led to fears that irresponsible horse breeders will continue to breed their animals in a bid to turn a quick profit and that existing horse owners will struggle financially to keep their animals and cover vet bills.

Many of the horses rescued by the RSPCA come into the charity’s care for rehoming. Rescue organisations in Wales have been able to rehome horses and other pets since May 15; after the Welsh Government pointed to new Guidance that has been published by the Animal Welfare Network for Wales; meaning people can adopt these rescued equines once again.

Inspector McNeil added: “The public’s help is absolutely vital to keep the RSPCA afloat during this extremely difficult time. We can’t stress how much we need loving homes for our horses and ponies, and we are urging those with experience of horses to please consider rehoming one of our wonderful rescue horses.

“Last year (2019), across England and Wales, we rehomed 242 horses and ponies to loving new homes, with many going on to become superb children’s riding ponies, happy hacking horses, fantastic project youngsters, and wonderful retired companions.”

To help the RSPCA keep rescuing horses, providing them with essential veterinary care, rehabilitation, and finding them new homes through these unprecedented times, please donate whatever you can spare at www.rspca.org.uk/covid.