Worries over horses left to fend for themselves in St Albans field

CONCERNS about the welfare of two horses left to fend for themselves in a field on the outskirts of St Albans have grown this week after the fragile animals were replaced with new horses.

The horses, which had been kept on a field along Highfield Park Drive on land that belongs to Nuffield Health and Fitness Centre, had attracted attention from gym-goers because of their neglected state of appearance.

A woman who wished not to be identified said she had first noticed the horses when she joined the health centre in May and became concerned that throughout the summer they had no shelter from the heat and only a plastic bathtub from which to drink.

She said: “As winter approached I grew more and more concerned about the welfare of these animals and I wondered how long it would be before I drove up and saw a dead horse lying in the field.

“Now they’ve moved those poor horses on and who knows where they are. The horses that they’ve replaced them with certainly look a little healthier, but for how long?

“Winter is fast approaching and it’s going to get very cold and these animals are going to struggle without any shelter.”

She contacted the RSPCA on more than one occasion but never received a clear response about their intentions regarding the animals.

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She spoke with the staff at Nuffield and they informed her then that it was a difficult issue for them to deal with because the horses belonged to gypsies who had been using their land.

Over the summer months, the horses escaped from the field several times and ended up on the main road which then required police assistance to return them to their field.

A spokeswoman said: “The RSPCA is aware of the horses and we have visited them on a number of occasions, and we have been working with the owner to ensure the horses’ needs are being met.

“Obviously should the situation change then we would act accordingly.”

Nuffield Health Centre said it did not wish to comment on the horses’ condition but confirmed that it had come to an agreement with the horses’ owners that they might keep the animals on the land as it could not be used for anything else.

A concerned dog walker has also reported seeing two very hungry looking horses in a field close by, although these aren’t thought to be the two that have been moved on.

The woman now visits them regularly to feed the horses and check on their well-being.