AN EQUINE lover has appealed for people not to feed horses when they take walks in the Cumbrian countryside.

Ruth Chamberlain, from Caldbeck, is backing the British Horse Society’s #behorseaware campaign after many became seriously ill and even died following regular feeds from members of the public.

Ruth, who’s also an amateur photographer, says this is especially true with hardy breeds, such as Exmoor Ponies and Cumbria’s very own Fell Pony.

It can contribute to crippling conditions such as laminitis, a painful inflammation of the hooves.

She said: “After the lockdown a lot of people are finding new places to walk everyday and perhaps they’ll see a pony in a field and start bringing it food.

“Imagine you had a child, now what if everyone that passes the child gives them a mars bar.

“Children and animals such as dogs can be sick, but a horse can’t.

“Fell Ponies are designed to live off poor-quality vegetation.

“People see horses and they get used to being fed.”

She added that on a number of occasions there have been incidents where families have walked up to horses with bags of apples.

Organisations like Cumbria Wildlife Trust have taken action and put up ‘do not feed the horses’ signs in their reserves.

Alan Hiscox, director of welfare at The British Horse Society, said: “We believe many people act with no malicious intent and are simply unaware of the risks.

“We encourage horse owners to download signs the society has produced warning the public not to feed their horse.

“The greater the awareness of the issue, the more likely people are to change their behaviour.”

For information go to #behorseaware at the British horse Society or Ruth’s Facebook page