A SPATE of cruelty against horses, abandoned and left for dead, has led to two leading animal charities appealing to News Shopper readers for help.

In just one week, three horses, thought to be abandoned by traveller families, were found suffering on land in Dartford by the RSPCA and British Horse Society (BHS).

The first, a bay Welsh cob, was spotted by a passer-by and was found to have a broken leg which was so seriously damaged it could not be treated.

The RSPCA was forced to have the animal put down.

RSPCA inspector Beth Clements, who called a vet to the animal at the former Stone Lodge Farm, Stone, said: "It should have been given immediate medical treatment and not left to suffer like this.

"We would like to hear from anyone who knows anything about it."

Another distressed horse was found "hours from death", in Green Street Green, suffering a highly-contagious equine disease known as "strangles", by BHS welfare officer Claire Aldridge. The volunteer, who has 10 years experience, told the News Shopper: "The horse was suffering from strangles, which causes an abscess on the throat. It couldn't breathe and wouldn't have survived the night.

"It's an awful situation and one which has been going on in north Kent for some time.

"It is worse here than anywhere else in the county."

A sick yearling colt and a third 10-month-old horse were rescued from the field in Swanley on April 7.

They were also severely malnourished and dehydrated.

The BHS is forced to keep the location of the rescued horses secret for fear of reprisals.

The RSPCA and the BHS recently formed an "equine working party" with the police, councils and landowners to combat the problem of neglected horses.

Ms Aldridge added: "Members of the public can help by notifying us or the RSPCA if they have any doubts about how horses are being treated."

Call the RSPCA on 08705 555999 or the BHS on 01926 707700.