Thursday 13th of May 2021

Welfare charities rescue 19 fly-grazing shire horses

A multi-agency round-up operation has seen 19 Shire horses offered new homes having been found fly grazing in Bewdley, Worcestershire.


On Friday 10th November, Redwings Horse Sanctuary joined forces with the Blue Cross, Bransby Horses, HorseWorld, RSPCA and World Horse Welfare to round-up a group of Shire horses, including mares with foals at foot.

Redwings received a call to the charity’s welfare line from a landowner about a large group of Shire horses fly-grazing on his land. Notices were issued for the owner to claim the horses, but sadly to no avail. Under the Control of Horses Act 2015 (England), ownership was subsequently transferred to the landowner who requested the help of Redwings to secure the future of the horses as he was not able to provide the care these heavy horses require.

Following a visit and assessment of the horses by Redwings’ Senior Field Officer Julie Harding, concerns were also raised for the welfare of the horses with the onset of winter and in light of the youngsters and foals being completely unhandled.

During the 15-hour rescue operation, all 19 horses were successfully removed from the site. Redwings offered a home to six horses – four mares, two of which had foals at foot, and who have all since been named after species of butterfly. Four horses were offerd homes by RSPCA, three by HorseWorld, and Bransby Horses, Blue Cross and World Horse Welfare all offering homes to two horses each.

Commenting on the rescue operation, Redwings’ Head of Welfare and Behaviour Nic de Brauwere said:

“It is safe to say that had we not intervened the welfare of this group would have been at great risk, especially with the approaching winter. No provisions had been made by the former owner for their ongoing care, nor had the youngsters received any type of handling, owing to a complete lack of basic care.

“This round-up is an example of both the effectiveness of the Control of Horses Act and of successful partnership working among the welfare charities to secure the future of a group of horses, the outlook for whom would otherwise have been extremely concerning”.

Similarly, Redwings Senior Field Officer Julie Harding said:

“I cannot comprehend why such a low value was placed on these beautiful animals to fly-graze them in the first place and then not to come forward to claim them; it really saddens me. Thankfully, together with our colleagues at our fellow welfare charities, we were able to offer these mares and foals a home where they’ll be treasured.”

Commenting on the operation and the horses rehomed to the charities involved, Equine Rehoming Officer for the RSPCA Gareth Johnson said:

“This was a great example of how we as horse welfare charities come together really effectively when needed. We were concerned for the welfare of two mares and their foals in particular, and have now transported all four to a private boarding yard where they’ve been seen by a farrier and will receive all the care they need until they are ready to find new homes. The foals are between just three and six month old, so being fly-grazed puts them at real risk, but now they are in our care their future is much brighter.”

Sarah Hollister, Equine Yard Manager at HorseWorld said:

“We have an ‘old girl’ who will spend her golden years here at HorseWorld, with all the care she deserves, as well as two youngsters who now have a bright future ahead of them”.

Finally Vicki Alford, Horse Manager at Blue Cross said:

“This situation is a great example of what can be achieved by welfare charities if we all pull together. These horses were likely to have suffered a very bleak winter without our intervention and we are so pleased to have been able to offer safe sanctuary for two of the horses. Both are doing well.”

Redwings Horse Sanctuary provides a home for life to over 1,500 horses, ponies, donkeys and mules and is 100% publicly funded. To support the care of the charity’s six new arrivals, as well as all those at the Sanctuary, visit or text “HORS30 £5” to 70070 to give £5 today.

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