The British Horse Society has warned that flooding, starvation, the recession and illness could lead to horses and ponies facing the worst twelve months in living memory.
The BHS helped in excess of 8,000 horses last year but know many more to be at risk.
A statement from the charity said: “Horses drowning in flooded fields, starving to death, riddled with worms and lice, poor or non-existent hoof care or dumped to fend for themselves may sound like something from a hundred years ago in the fields of the Somme, but sadly it is Britain in 2014.”
Lee Hackett, Director of Equine Policy at the BHS, said: “The horse has been a loyal servant to mankind and is an integral part of our heritage.
“We owe him so much yet, now when he needs us, we are spectacularly failing him.”
Mr Hackett cites years of unchecked and indiscriminate breeding and the recession among the causes of this horrific situation.
“The UK is saturated with thousands of horses will little or no value and a shortage of responsible and knowledgeable owners willing to care for them,” he said. “Together with other charities we have been doing our best to resolve the situation, but sanctuaries are now beyond full and we are facing crisis point.”
The Control of Horses Wales Bill received Royal Assent this week in a bid to tackle fly grazing - illegally grazing horses on private land.
The Act has received unanimous support from the welfare sector but experts fear it will result in the problem moving over the border into England.
“We have to congratulate the Welsh Government for taking such a positive stance and listening to the welfare charities,” says Mr Hackett.
“However, Westminster must take notice now. Failing to act is going to lead to more horses suffering in England and that is unacceptable. We need our politicians to be proactive, not complacent. Britain is supposed to be a nation of animal lovers.
“We are entering the Chinese Year of the Horse. Let’s make it the year when we all stand together and really make a difference to British horses.”