An increasing number of horses are being taken into care according to the BC SPCA and some horse advocates say the rising costs of hay is to blame.

The price of hay is up 50 per cent since last year and horse owners will likely see higher prices before this summer's harvest, according to Kevan Garecki, manager at Circle F Horse Rescue Society. Garecki, who has been rescuing horses in the Fraser Valley for 25 years, says he expects to see more horses coming through his gates in the coming months. 

"We're probably looking at between 10 to 15 per cent of the total [horse] population being affected to an extreme degree," he said.

"I think during this blip that we're seeing right now, yes it will probably get worse before it gets better."

High hay prices are the result of a small harvest after last summer's drought, said Garacki.

How to take care of a horse

Garecki says inexperienced owners, while they "have their heart in the right place," may be surprised at how expensive and complicated horse care can become.

"Rehabbing horses can be extremely complex. It's not just a matter of feeding them," he said.

"It's a matter of dealing with physical and psychological and emotional issues, behavioural problems."

Horses at Circle F Horse Rescue receive treatment from vets, hoof care from farriers, and massages from therapists. These efforts all go toward finding a forever home for the rescued horses, said Garecki.

But new horse owners need to know, "it's not just a matter of throwing a bale of hay over the fence," he said.  

To listen to the full audio, click the link labelled: B.C. SPCA has record number of horses.