THREE emaciated ponies were dumped in a Wickford field.

The RSPCA was called to a field off Nevendon Road after the owner of the land found her fence had been cut and the ponies left there.

The three animals, one of which is in foal, were starved, had severe lice infestations and hooves in poor condition. They are thought to be between 12 and 19 years old. None were marked or microchipped.

Inspector Steve Craddock said: “We would like any member of the public with information about these ponies and how they came to be abandoned to contact us.

‘They were in an appalling condition when theywere found with their ribs and backbones visible because they were so thin.

“Fortunately they are now recovering at Hopefields in Brentwood.

“It is never acceptable to dump your horse, but sadly this situation is not uncommon.

“The country is currently in the grip of a horse crisis with the RSPCA and other horse welfare charities struggling to cope with the numbers of abandoned, neglected and abused horses.

“We are stretched to breaking point with about 125 places at our equine centres, but around 800 horses in our care.”