A RETIRED racehorse was so emaciated she had to be put to sleep in what an animal charity has described as the worst case it has seen in half a century.

The female thoroughbred, named by her rescuers as ‘Hope’, was found in a field near Abergavenny on February 13 after a concerned member of the public alerted The Society for the Rescue of Horses and Ponies.

Staff at the Monmouth-based registered charity, which takes in abused and neglected equines, said they were horrified at what they found.

Hope was barely standing with a badly injured foot and had a body score of zero. She was covered in raw infected sores from ‘rain scald’.

Staff managed to walk her to the horse ambulance and took her to Abbey Vets in Abergavenny for emergency treatment.

She spent 72 hours in the intensive care stable at The MacGregor Centre but was so weak there was no alternative to put her to sleep three days later.

Chairwoman of the charity, Jenny MacGregor MBE said staff were devastated by her loss.

She said: “In almost 50 years of equine welfare this has to be one of the most appalling and saddest cases we have come across, it just shows how easily horses including family pets that have been previously well cared for can end up like Hope. The owner still hasn’t noticed she is no longer in her field.”

Mrs MacGregor said Hope had more than 90,000 followers on Facebook from as far afield as Florida. More than 1,000 messages of support were posted, which turned to sadness following the news of her passing.

Checks made by the charity found from her Microchip that Hope was a race horse registered at Weatherby’s as ‘Out of Nothing.’ Her records show she ran 43 races in Ireland and the UK with three wins and eight placings before retiring in 2014.

Among the comments posted to the SWHP Facebook page was one by Liam Lewis-Salter, originally from Ebbw Vale, who wrote: "I used to ride this filly when she came over from Irelan, lovely ride on times but a typical woman. She was a lovely funny little filly with a huge heart. Always wanted to impress and always did. I’m absolutely gutted. RIP Out of Nothing."

SWHP yard manager, Ann Walker who supervised Hope’s care said: “She was barely 13 years of age. Hope could have gone on to have a happy retirement in a loving home.

“If only we had found her sooner we might have been able to save her but take some consolation in that those last days she was shown love, compassion and the best of treatment.”

For more on the Monmouth charity visit www.swhp.co.uk