THOUSANDS of abandoned horses are causing misery for animals and landowners across Britain and Hampshire, according to a new report.

More than 3,000 horses are being ‘fly-grazed’ in British fields, creating huge problems for horses, landowners, welfare charities and local authorities, according to a study published by six charities and rural groups.

The horse meat scandal, economic downturn, over-breeding and the high cost of keeping horses have created a “perfect storm” for abandoning horses, the report added.

Fly-grazing is most common in the West Midlands and North East of England but Lee Hackett, director of policy at the British Horse Society, told a parliamentary panel that the practice is “endemic” nationwide and Hampshire has “significant issues”.

He told the Environmental, Food and Rural Affairs Committee on September 3: “I do not think there is a particular difference in terms of public land and private land. The issue is very widespread.

“We have run mobile castration clinics, where we have gone out to areas where we know that there is a particular problem.”

The report’s publishers, which include the National Farmers Union, Countryside Alliance and Country Land and Business Association (CLA) are calling for legislation to help local authorities and landowners tackle the problem.

Robin Edwards, the CLA’s South East director, said: “Fly-grazing horses is a serious problem which creates a range of challenges in terms of the horse’s welfare, damage to land, and a safety risk for motorists when horses escape onto roads.