A FRESH flood warning has been placed in Ringwood ahead of more expected rain, as the River Avon has reaches highest recorded level.

The Environment Agency has said the river close to homes at Bickerley Mill Stream and Riverside Terrace had reached 1.29m today.

The typical river level for this location is between 0.40m and 0.90m, with 1.20m being the highest ever previously recorded.

Mike Dunning, spokesman for the Environment Agency, said people should make preparations in case of flooding and be aware of the conditions, particularly if they are in areas that have flooded before or are in close proximity to the river.

He recommended moving valuables upstairs, making sure cars were parked on high ground and monitoring Met Office weather predictions and the agency’s flood warnings.

He said: “People do need to be vigilant.”

Hampshire Fire crews rescued four semi-wild horses from a field near West Street on Christmas Eve after torrential downpours and rising groundwater left the herd without dry pasture.

The RSPCA’s flood team attempted to rescue the herd of six the previous day after they had become stranded by floodwater, however the operation was unsuccessful.

An RSPCA spokesman said there was no access to the field and all the surrounding area was waterlogged, with the only exit through a caravan park without secure fencing.

“The owner was present and there is access to a dry area where she is feeding them on a daily basis,” she said.

“She is also aware that as soon as the water recedes the horses are to be removed.

“The RSPCA flood team was deployed and they met with the horse owners on site.

"We would always advice owners to monitor their animals closely so they can act before they are at risk especially where we experiencing heavy rain and there are flood warnings in place.”

Now the RSPCA and the owner, who is feeding the horses daily, are monitoring the situation.

The horses had been moved into the field, which is flanked by three rivers, late in the summer.

However, the wettest summer on record has led to high ground water levels and the recent downpours mean the water has nowhere to drain.

Residents say the flooding is some of the most severe in recent memory, however the Environment Agency said the river will not breach the town’s flood defences.