THREE emaciated horses found in a field near the M25 had been left to die, horrified welfare charities said this week.

One of the animals had to be put down as it was so weak it was unable to stand, while the two others are in a serious condition and requiring round the clock care.

All the horses had been microchipped but leading animal welfare charities have been unable to trace the owner - leading to an appeal for information.

They were found in a large cornfield in Chalfont St Peter by RSPCA Inspector Rachel Smith and World Horse Welfare Field Officer Nick White on Friday, February 21.

The two surviving horses, who have been named Penelope and Pollyanna, are currently in the care of the Horse Trust's home of rest in Speen, with their condition described as serious.

Insp Smith said: "This was an absolutely horrific situation. It is awful to think that someone no longer wanted these animals and just neglected then dumped them with no thought for their welfare."

Mr White added: "It was cruelty of the worst kind to abandon these three vulnerable horses in this way. It was a very serious and sad situation but in a superb combined effort all the charities worked together to ensure the best outcome for them."

Jeanette Allen, Chief Executive of the Horse Trust, said: "These mares are very affectionate and have clearly been well handled, and there are signs that they were cared for in the not too distant past.

"The horses were implanted with microchips, which should make it easy to detect the owner, but they had not been registered. Sadly, this is a problem that we encounter all too often.

"It is truly heart breaking to see these horses in such an appalling state and they are yet more victims of the current equine crisis. We at The Horse Trust will do everything in our power to give them the fighting chance they deserve. "

Anyone with information about the horses or who the owners are can contact the RSPCA on 0300 123 8018.