THE Bucks Free Press is calling for readers' help to stop horses being put down because of the credit crunch.

Last week we reported the Horse Trust charity in Speen had been inundated by calls from horse owners who were no longer able to afford to keep their animals.

Since that report appeared, the charity has had several calls from people offering to re-home some of the horses.

At the moment there are 118 horses based at the centre – with another four due to be re-homed there before the end of the year.

There is nowhere else for them to go – meaning they could end up being put down.

Susan Lewis, director of marketing at the Trust, said the public response to the Bucks Free Press article had been “phenomenal”.

She said: “We've had offers of land from people and we are looking at how these people can be of assistance to us.

“We've had people offer to take horses as well. We have talked about matching horses with new owners but that's at the very early stages.

“I was shocked at just how much response we've had since last week. It's fantastic, it's addressing the issue that we can only do so much to help and the community is really stepping up a gear. We'd like to thank everyone but we have to consider our options.”

Mrs Lewis said it would take some time for the Trust to respond to all of the calls because of a lack of staff.

She said: “We only have two full-time members of staff, the rest are part-time and we all double up and have more than one role.

“We rely on people coming up and putting money in the donation box or people leaving money in their wills. We rely totally on the public for donations, we don't actively fundraise.

“What we are proud of is the fact that for every pound that's given to us, over 90p is spent on the horses. Usually it's half-and-half.”

But she added: “In a financial crisis people give less to charitable causes. I have already noticed we are not getting anywhere near the amount of money we were getting. It's been very quiet this year and it's going to get quieter.

“It doesn't matter how big or small a donation is, it makes a difference.”

Even a donation of £1 is enough to buy a hoof pick – which is needed to keep the animals' hooves clean and healthy.

Mrs Lewis said it costs an average of between £3,000 and £5,000 to keep a horse at the centre.

Without public support, the Trust will not be able to keep going – meaning the horses would have to be put down as there is nowhere else for them.

The Horse Trust is registered charity number 231748.

Send donations to The Horse Trust, The Home of Rest for Horses, Speen, Princes Risborough, Bucks HP27 0PP, or call 01494 488464.