With the horse crisis refusing to abate – where there are simply too many horses being bred and not enough homes for them to go to – increasing pressure continues to be exerted on the spaces available at the Sanctuary. But despite working at capacity, Redwings has remained determined to help those horses and donkeys in most need and partnered with other welfare organisations throughout the year to ensure as many as possible were brought to safety.
This year, the charity has worked alongside organisations – including the RSPCA, Bransby Horses, World Horse Welfare, HorseWorld, the Blue Cross and local authorities – to undertake eight rescue operations involving more than 120 equines. The latest operation, which took place in November 2017, involved six organisations working together to round-up 19 fly-grazed Shire horses near Kidderminster, Worcestershire, with six being offered safe forever homes at Redwings.
Redwings’ welfare team has also continued to investigate welfare issues reported by the public, with officers attending 207 suspected cases of concern. Meanwhile, the charity’s vets and welfare officers attended Wickham Horse Fair and Appleby Horse Fair sharing care advice with owners and providing treatment where needed.
The specialist work of Redwings’ veterinary, rehabilitation and daily care teams has also been in the spotlight this year and will continue to be a focus in 2018.
Last year, the charity took in over 40 emaciated and sick semi-feral ponies from bleak conditions on the UK’s moors and commons – a third of the Sanctuary’s intake in 2016. This year has seen its teams focus on nursing these once poorly and petrified ponies back to full health, seen them begin basic handling training and even help them safely give birth to five adorable foals.
The public were able to meet some of these ponies and see first-hand the challenges of caring for Redwings’ complex population of equines when the charity hosted a special open day at its headquarters in Norfolk during the summer. A record crowd of 950 people in just one day took the opportunity to tour its facilities, which are normally closed to the public, including its Horse Hospital and Rehoming Centre.
Sanctuary care is also at the heart of Redwings’ latest ‘Give a Horse a Hug’ winter appeal. Because every horse or donkey brought into the Sanctuary is offered a home with the charity for life, its resident population consists of a high proportion of elderly horses, including 204 “veterans” (aged 15 to 19) and 338 “geriatrics” (aged 20 and over). The winter now sees Redwings’ care teams turn their focus on providing extra care for these older and frailer residents with supporters being urged to give them a helping hoof throughout the colder months. Donations will ensure older equines will have warm rugs to wear, medication to ease aches and pains, extra feed to maintain a healthy weight and cosy shavings to lay on.
Lynn Cutress, Redwings’ Chief Executive, said:
“Despite the ongoing pressures exerted on us by the horse crisis, our rescue work continues to be an integral part of our role as a charity. By working more closely with other welfare organisations and sharing our expertise, together we’ve been able to ensure that those horses and donkeys in desperate need are brought to places of safety.
“Our specialist sanctuary care has always been at the beating heart of what we do and this year was no different. Horses and donkeys come into the Sanctuary from a huge variety of situations, and with over 30 years’ experience of rescuing equines, you can imagine the incredibly diverse health and behavioural needs, as well as ages, of our residents that our care teams support every day.
“The heart-warming recovery of the ponies who arrived at Redwings from the moors and commons last year shows the hard work that begins once equines are brought into the Sanctuary, and we were delighted to be able to demonstrate this to the public during our Open Day this year.”
Sanctuary care will continue to be a focus next year as Redwings marks the 10-year anniversary of the Amersham rescue, which saw over 100 horses, ponies and donkeys saved from horrific conditions at Spindle Farm. Redwings was instrumental in the rescue taking in 60 of these stricken equines – plus six foals born to rescued mares at the Sanctuary – and returning them back to health. A decade on, an incredible 58 are still enjoying happy and healthy lives at the Sanctuary or with loving Guardian families.
“The continued survival of so many of these horses and donkeys who endured the most severe neglect is further testament to the dedication of our veterinary and care teams. Throughout 2018, we’ll be commemorating the rescue, celebrating the happy lives the survivors of Spindle Farm now lead and asking our supporters to help us care for these brave equines for the next 10 years.”
To find out more or to donate, visit www.redwings.org.uk