OFFICIALS behind a Horsewatch scheme being run across the Isle are now backing moves to stop people rushing into buying the animals as festive gifts.
North Lincolnshire Council and Humberside Police launched the Horsewatch scheme last month because of concerns for the safety of the animals and to bring to justice anyone who injures or neglects the creatures.
Today the local authority has backed a bid to get people to treat horses the same way they would treat other pets at Christmas.
The British Horse Society is warning of its concerns that horses could be abandoned in fields because their owners or breeders are unable to care for them, if people buy them as Christmas presents in the next few weeks.
It comes after reports of a website sending out an email with a sales pitch offering horses under £500, describing them as making great Christmas presents.
A spokesman for the authority said that the council agreed with the British Horse Society’s stance that horses required skilled care from knowledgeable people and were not festive gifts.
She added: “Buying a horse is a major decision that should not be taken lightly, many horse owners associate it with like having a mortgage.
“It is a huge responsibility to own a horse, not just financially, but the time it takes to look after the horse.
“We recently set up the Horsewatch scheme to help protect horses and prevent horse theft.
“To encourage people to buy a horse because they make a great Christmas gift is irresponsible and sends out the wrong message.”
BHS senior welfare executive Lee Hackett said the charity was disappointed to see suggestions proposing buying horses as Christmas gifts.
He said: “A horse is for life, not just for Christmas.
“These horses would need careful handling from experienced people to develop and prepare for their future. They are most certainly not to be exploited for Christmas.”
He added BHS encouraged anyone who was in a position to care properly for a new horse to contact a reputable horse rescue centre.
The Horsewatch scheme was launched after a string of equine related issues were raised in the Epworth area.
Reports this year have included a horse having its tail and mane cut off, and thefts of thousands of pounds worth of horse equipment from the Isle.