Residents have raised concerns about the welfare of three horses in a muddied field covered with litter.

The plot of land next to Chingford Rugby Club, in Waltham Way, Chingford, has had horses on it for the past three years.

Residents and animal welfare activists have voiced their concerns over the lack of shelter, care, food and water the horses have received.

The owner, who locals say is called Ray, has set up metal fences within the plot of land and placed a small grey pony in a confined space.

It is understood the pony has been placed there to stop it from trying to escape. 

Maureen Turner, 60, of Sewardstone Road, lives close by to the horses and has contacted the RSPCA on several occasions.

She said: "Three weeks ago the grey pony got out and was eating grass on the verge of the main road.

"I stood there for ages with the horse until the police arrived and three hours later they couldn't track down the owner.

"The horses have no shelter and no food. They are going to end up with mud fever and I don't think the owner is doing his job to look after the animals."

Debbie Baldwin, of Old Church Road in Chingford says the horses are neglected.

"They are terribly neglected and they are lonely. I know the weather has been awful and most fields are muddy but they have no grazing area, or rugs to keep them warm.

"They look dehydrated and as though they have been dumped," says Ms Baldwin.

The plot of land which includes unused stables in disrepair, has wire mesh, old paint cans, a gardening fork, kids play toys and bits of plastic strewn across the field.

Linda Worboys of Winchester Road, in Highams Park, said she recently witnessed the horses with icicles hanging off their manes.

She said: "They are not being adequately cared for. It looks like a rubbish dump and the site is disgusting. In early January I passed by and saw icicles hanging off their manes.”

The RSPCA is aware of the situation and has sought to reassure residents concerns.

A spokesman said: "An RSPCA inspector has visited the field in the past few days and found that although conditions are not ideal, due to recent bad weather, both horses appear to be in good health.

"The inspector witnessed the owner feeding the horses and has been told he is currently fixing the fences and a shelter, which was damaged in recent storms, to give access to all of the horses."

"We would like to reassure the public that we are keeping a very close eye on these horses."

"Sadly this situation is not uncommon. The country is currently in the grip of a horse crisis with the RSPCA and other horse welfare charities struggling to cope with the numbers of abandoned, neglected and abused horses.

"We have about 100 spaces at our equine centres but have more than 800 horses in our care."