A NEGLECTED horse rescued by the RSPCA in Basingstoke is just one of a record number in need of a new home.

The RSPCA has launched a campaign to find homes for abused, neglected and abandoned horses and ponies, as it deals with an equine crisis caused by falling horse prices over the past five years and rising feed and care costs.

Holly is just one of thousands of horses which have been neglected, dumped and in some cases left starving to death.

She was found by RSPCA inspectors in Basingstoke in April 2011, with a herd of horses living in terrible conditions.

Some of them were crawling with lice, others had overgrown feet and many were riddled with worms.

The man responsible for caring for the horses pleaded guilty to welfare offences and was disqualified from keeping horses for five years and given a suspended prison sentence.

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 bases 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.”

Three-year-old Holly is one of the lucky ones and has recovered well from the ordeal and is now looking for a good home.

The stunning grey cob, who has patches of blue roan, is ready to be backed and could make a great riding or driving pony.

Sue Walters, manager of RSPCA Millbrook, where Holly is being cared for, said: “She is a very sweet natured and easygoing pony. She is very striking. She’s got a very impressive mane and forelock.”

Holly is 13 hands tall, good to lead, load and catch and is in need of an experienced home to help her reach her full potential.

She is passported, microchipped and vaccinated.

To find out more about Holly contact RSPCA Millbrook in Chobham, Surrey on 0300 123 0740.

To find out more about rehoming an RSPCA horse or pony visit www.rspca.org.uk/homesforhorses or to support the campaign text HORSE to 70111 to give £3.