FRESH concerns have been raised by residents about the welfare of horses in a Hampshire field over fears they are not being fed and watered properly.
Local people fear the animals - many of them with clearly visible ribcages and bones and covered in flies - are dehydrated and malnourished.
Their worries, in light of the recent hot weather and that saw temperatures reaching 28 degrees, have been echoed by a borough councillor who said the horses on Hamble Airfield were “miserable”.
It comes seven weeks after the Daily Echo reported how RSPCA inspectors were investigating the care of horses at the site following the discovery of an emaciated colt dumped in the fields.
Earlier in the year a horse was suffering from strangles - a contagious equine disease.
At the time, the organisation told how it was visiting the site sometimes as often as twice a day to monitor the horses.
Now a Daily Echo investigation has found that more than 20 horses have been tethered on the land - and the majority appear to have no access to water and food throughout the day.
We observed the area in the north-west section of the airfield over nine hours during which nobody was seen to provide any food and water, despite intense sunshine and temperatures of 23 degrees.
Empty or overturned buckets could be seen placed near some of the animals, while one black and white horse had a full water bucket nearby but couldn't reach it because its chain was too short.
It was not until 4.50pm that a couple, thought to be aged in their late 40s, arrived at the field with two small water canisters and began to move the horses to another section of the field.
When approached by the Daily Echo they refused to say who they were, or confirm if they owned the horses, but told our reporter they come to the field early every morning and late afternoon to give the horses water.
Locals are concerned about horses at Hamble Airfield - some have clearly visible ribcages
They added that if people had a problem with their treatment of the horses they should call the local RSPCA.
One resident who had concerns but didn't want to be named, contacted the Daily Echo to voice her concerns.
She said: “I just hate them suffering and I just think it's wrong.
“I think there are responsibilities that come with rights to things and I believe we should have some firm action from the government.”
Suzy Hamel, Eastleigh Borough Councillor for Hamble and Butlocks Heath, echoed her feelings.
She said: “We have had this really hot weather and they are just miserable.
“The stronger ones often break free and get on the road and there doesn't seem to be anything that can be done. I think it's got worse really.”
The RSPCA confirmed it had received complaints and an inspector was now visiting the site regularly.
A spokesman said: “Since the weather has been warmer we have received some calls from members of the public concerned that the horses are not receiving water.
“However, they are given water in the morning and evening and are hydrated and the owners are currently acting within the law, although our advice to the owner is that always that they should have access to fresh water 24/7.
“We are working with other horse charities including World Horse Welfare to monitor and provide advice.”
Anyone with concerns regarding the welfare of horses or other animals can contact the RSPCA on 0300 123 4999.