The RSPCA is facing a massive increase in calls from people concerned about the welfare of tethered horses and ponies.

The animal charity received 5,323 such calls in 2009. In 2010 the number rose to 5,998. By the end of June 2011, 3,642 calls had already been received. A similar number in the final six months of the year will result in an increase of 21 per cent in these calls compared to 2010.

The RSPCA believes that there are at least 3,500 tethered horses at any one time in the UK. Although it is not illegal to tether horses and ponies, the RSPCA does not think it is a good way of keeping them.

RSPCA equine rehoming officer, Sally Learoyd, said: “Tethering can seriously compromise a horse’s well-being in many ways and it is very difficult to do well.

“More horse owners may be tethering their animals because they are struggling financially. However this is not a low-cost or low-maintenance way of keeping a horse and is not considered good practice.

“It can also be extremely dangerous for the animal – we have seen ponies strangled to death by their own tether and with permanent neck, leg and hoof injuries, all as a result of the animals being tethered.”

You can read the RSPCA’s official advice on tethering horses here.

You can also read the sad story of Limpet, who was attacked by dogs while tethered. Despite her injuries, Limpet recovered and now lives happily with our friends at Redwings Horse Sanctuary.