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Horses being kept in the Stapleford Abbotts area were "rotting from the inside"
Seventeen horses have been rescued after they were discovered underweight and crawling with maggots.
An operation was launched in two fields at the back of a travellers’ site close to Stapleford Abbotts when World Horse Welfare, RSPCA and Redwings were alerted to the neglected animals.
Following an anonymous tip-off, Emma Swadlo of WHW visited the animals and was disgusted by what she found.
She said: "These horses were rotting away. They had maggots crawling out of their frogs and severely long feet; the smell was like nothing I have ever smelt before.
“If these horses would have been left in the environment they were living in then they would have simply rotted away.
"The shed that the three youngsters were forced to live in was three foot deep with manure, there was not a patch of green in the fields and all the horses had to eat were barrels of rotting bread."
RSPCA officers could not save all of the horses.
One mare found with her foal had to put to sleep as her hooves were falling off.
The most seriously affected horses received immediate farriery treatment but some are being kept in an emergency holding centre as they are not well enough to travel.
Emma Swadlo said: “This was one of the worst cases I have seen.
"Just watching the farrier having to stop and retch every so often due to the strong smell coming from these poor horses as their feet were rotting away tells you how badly these horses were suffering."
Blood tests later revelaed that the animals were seriosuly ill.
Nobody has claimed ownership of the animals and police are investigating.
Their exact location has not been revealed by police although the RM4 postcode indicates that they were being held in the Stapleford Abbotts area.
To find out more about the rescue and the growing number of abandoned horses, visit www.worldhorsewelfare.org/Emerging-Horse-Crisis.
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