A HAMPSHIRE MP has highlighted the plight of unwanted horses.

Former energy secretary Chris Huhne was at the Epona Trust at Allington Lane in West End as he revealed 6,000 horses and ponies faced being abandoned across the country.

The Eastleigh MP has teamed up with the trust, which specialises in equine rescue and rehabilitation, in a bid to raise awareness of the crisis.

It comes as six key animal welfare charities warned of neglect caused by irresponsible breeding, spiralling care bills, the wet and cold weather, and rock-bottom sale prices.

Mr Huhne was given a tour of the trust headquarters, based at the Russells Equestrian Centre, and shown two horses, Severn and Crunchie who have both been rescued after being abandoned.

He said: “The cases of Severn and Crunchie are truly appalling, but sadly this is not uncommon. We must get a grip on this problem before the situation gets totally out of hand and more horses are needlessly neglected, or worse.

“The RSPCA and Eastleigh Borough Council have done excellent work to combat illegal horse tethering, but I’m afraid this is just the tip of the iceberg and councils need help from government to crack down on this sort of practice.

“There should be stricter controls on horse ownership, with better enforcement on horse imports and exports.

“We should also look again at the Tripartite agreement between the UK, Ireland and France – this allows the import and export of vulnerable horses and ponies into and out of the three countries without health certificates.”

“I’d urge anyone buying a horse to think carefully about it, and to check whether they really have the resources to look after it properly in the long-term? The Epona Trust says it costs at least £3,000 a year.”