The RSPCA has launched its new strategy for animal welfare, which includes seeking statutory powers for its frontline rescuers, enabling them to reach suffering horses and ponies quicker.

Its ten year strategy – Together for Animal Welfare – sets out a “more joined-up animal welfare response” by working in partnership with other charities, communities and animal lovers.

“We’re lucky that already we have an excellent working relationship with members of the National Equine Welfare Council (NEWC) and we will be looking to step-up our collaborative work with the other equine charities,” said Roxane Kirton, the charity’s senior equine clinician.

At its height the RSPCA had more than 900 horses in it’s care but during 2020 that number has reduced to 673 through a surge in rehoming and also transferring some horses and ponies into the care of other charities.

“Despite our numbers reducing we are still as committed as bringing an end to the horse crisis which started in 2008 and has turned into a horse catastrophe,” said Roxane.

“As the name of our new strategy suggests we know we are more powerful when we act with others than on our own. We remain positive that this is something we can get a grip of if we work together.

“Education and changing the attitudes and behaviour of some horse owners is also vital for solving this dreadful problem, and we have some fantastic educational initiatives between us as charities that I’m confident will pave the way for a better future for our horses.”

Chief Executive Chris Sherwood added: “Our frontline rescue and care work saving animals 365 days a year will continue to be at the heart of what we do.

“Despite being a global health pandemic with the country lockdown for months there were still more than a million calls to our rescue line last year and our frontline officers looked into almost 100,000 complaints of animal cruelty.

“The need for the RSPCA is as great as ever and we are determined no animal is left behind.

“But the world is changing and we recognise we can’t do it alone. To achieve our ambitious aims for animal welfare, we will partner with volunteers, communities, RSPCA branches, colleagues in the welfare sector and beyond, to reach the animals who need us most.”