Pony found with maggot-infested wounds is rehomed eighteen months after rescue
19hh Clydesdale World Horse Welfare Digger’s life is celebrated
World Horse Welfare Annual Conference explores welfare challenges facing horses now and in the future
Buggy, the pony whose amazing transformation earned him the title of Equifest Rescue Horse of the Year, has found a loving new home just in time for Christmas.
Buggy was discovered in May 2016, abandoned at just a few months old and suffering from terrible maggot-infested wounds on his back. He was incredibly weak and spent several days receiving round the clock care at the Minster Equine Veterinary Practice where it was touch and go whether he would make it. Once strong enough, Buggy travelled to World Horse Welfare’s Penny Farm to begin his rehabilitation.
In summer 2017, Buggy’s inspiring story saw him crowned Rescue Pony of the Year at Equifest – an incredible achievement for a pony who was close to death just over a year earlier. Buggy was soon ready to find a new home on the charity’s Rehoming Scheme and ended his time at World Horse Welfare Penny Farm with a starring role as Prince Charming in the farm’s Christmas pantomime before making the journey to live with his new family in Northumberland.
Buggy’s rehomers, Linda and Jim, already rehome two horses from World Horse Welfare – Ethany and World Horse Welfare Zsonia. Linda said:
“We had followed Buggy’s story right from the start when he was first rescued and felt a real connection with him. As soon as I heard that he would be looking for a home, I was checking the World Horse Welfare website every day to ensure I didn’t miss the opportunity to rehome him! He has settled in really well with our seven horses and three alpacas – although he does have a real penchant for exploring the farm whenever he gets the chance.
“We have had to alter his stable door as he was too small to look over it and I now love seeing his cute face peeping out each morning. He’s clearly learnt well from his time in the spotlight as he’s such a poser whenever anyone has a camera around and he’s already quite the local celebrity with carol singing taking place at the stables in his honour before Christmas!
“He is a great companion for our other horses but I think he has such a taste for the limelight that we shall have to continue his in-hand showing career. We’re both so delighted to have been able to give this amazing little pony a home and look forward to seeing what the future brings for Buggy!”
Help give more horses like Buggy a second chance this Christmas: http://www.worldhorsewelfare.org/Appeal/FillAStocking
One of Europe’s tallest horses and much-loved adoption horse, 19hh World Horse Welfare Digger has been put to sleep due to ongoing health problems.
Digger arrived at World Horse Welfare’s Belwade Farm Rescue and Rehoming Centre as a four-year-old in 2007 after his owner contacted World Horse Welfare to ask for help. He was growing fast and at such a young age, problems had started to occur with the joints in his hind legs. After extensive rehabilitation from World Horse Welfare and gentle veterinary care, Digger regained confidence and continued growing – earning his title as the biggest horse the charity has ever cared for.
Standing at an enormous 9 feet from the ground to the tips of his ears and weighing almost a tonne, Digger caught the attention of The Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment and was accepted on a two-year training programme to become a drum horse, taking part in preparations for the Royal Wedding and Major General Parades. Unfortunately, it became apparent that Digger was much better suited to life in the slow lane away from busy London, so he returned to the Scottish Highlands in 2012 where he became Belwade Farm’s adoption horse.
Over the last few months, Digger had been struggling with recurring abscesses and more recently, his demeanour had become increasingly subdued and withdrawn which was a marked change from the inquisitive, friendly personality that he was known to be. Often a significant change in demeanour like this can be a sign that a horse isn’t feeling right in himself and in Digger’s case the team felt his quality of life had very much deteriorated as a result of the health problems he had been experiencing.
Digger received the very best care from World Horse Welfare’s vet and farrier, but sadly his condition showed no signs of improving and so it was with a heavy heart that the whole team decided it was in Digger’s best interest to put him to sleep.
World Horse Welfare Belwade Farm Centre Manager, Eileen Gillen, said:
“Digger was not only an amazing personality, loved by everyone who knew him but also a fantastic ambassador the charity. Despite losing his mother at just a few weeks old and battling a number of problems due to his extraordinary size, Digger led an inspiring life.
“He was the most loveable character who always enjoyed greeting visitors from far and wide, being careful and gentle with everyone – young and old, humans and horses alike.
“Digger captured the hearts of so many people from not only the UK but around the world. He will be sadly missed by each and every one of us here at World Horse Welfare.”
World Horse Welfare is inviting tributes, photos and memories of Digger which can be made by emailing: email@example.com
World Horse Welfare’s Annual Conference (30th November 2017) featured a host of speakers from across the equestrian sector who came together to discuss and debate how best we can protect the ‘invisible horses’ of the future.
Hosted at the Royal Geographical Society in London, the conference was opened with the charity’s President, HRH The Princess Royal who spoke of the changes in equine care and management over the years and stressed the importance and significance of a practical approach to safeguarding welfare. The Princess Royal also spoke of World Horse Welfare’s achievements over its 90 year history, highlighting the invisible horse concept and stressing the importance of collaboration. She said: “The invisible horse campaign has been an important one because it raises awareness of horses in our modern society that are not seen in the same way they would have been back in 1927. In those days most people would have had a pretty good idea of what horses did and how they lived, whereas now you might see them competing on the television but you probably don’t know all that much about them unless you choose to be directly involved.”
Entrepreneur, businesswoman and Dragon’s Den star, Deborah Meaden gave her personal perspective on the ways in which horses can go from visible to invisible through their lives, how education is critical in protecting the horses of the future and how technology has a vital role in this. She said: “When I look forward to the future, I’ve got immense hope. We’re becoming more connected with the world than we’ve ever been and technology is a fantastic thing for education. People can’t care if they don’t know. I get immersed in all of these stories of rescued and rehomed horses and I wish we could make it stop and then I realise that we can. We can because we’ve got the knowledge, we’ve got the care and we’ve got the tools.”
International development scientist and vet Brian Perry OBE discussed the drivers and incentives for welfare at a global level, particularly focussing on the challenges presented by the rise in demand for equine-derived products such as donkey skins which are used in traditional Chinese medicine. Professor Perry spoke of how this particular example has driven up the market value of donkeys thus resulting in thefts and illegal slaughter, and how this increased demand could place the future of the worldwide donkey population, and therefore the people who rely on them, at risk. He said: “In order to ensure welfare is protected through these emerging trades we have three steps to our approach. There is an opportunity to exploit these markets – improving product standards and thus welfare and health as a key component in this. We must have a ‘farm to fork’ outlook of understanding the beneficiaries at each stage of production and finally we must have incentives for product quality to be improved and welfare incorporated.”
Career digital marketer and founding partner of Apatchy London, Sam Tolhurst, presented on the many lessons being learned by business about social media and the opportunities and threats it brings for organisations like World Horse Welfare. She said: “The key to any successful brand, organisation or charity is building relationships. A healthy relationship involves both sides being equally interested. Social media is the first ever platform that really allows us to nurture such interest and traction on a vast scale and we should therefore fully embrace it as the opportunity to help the invisible horses of the future is huge.”
Animal welfare scientist and ethologist Michael Appleby OBE discussed the importance of ensuring working equids are appropriately recognised and represented at government level and the pressing need for evidence of these equids on their owners’ lives. He said: “The key is in balancing welfare and productivity. It could well be that increased welfare does increase productivity but we must have evidence in order to demonstrate this. We need quantitative data in order to persuade governments and policymakers that benefits to equines are benefits to the people who rely on them.”
A discussion panel chaired by Sky News Sports Editor Nick Powell and including Olympic gold medallist eventer Sir Mark Todd CBE, Vice President of the RCVS Chris Tufnell, Kate Hoey MP and World Horse Welfare Chief Field Officer, Claire Gordon, debated the meaning of responsible equine ownership from birth to death. The discussion covered a number of areas with debate on how to improve the most pressing welfare problems facing the UK’s equine population from legislation to education. World Horse Welfare Chief Field Officer, Claire Gordon, said: “Education and dissemination of information is the key driver of behaviour change so we need to identify why people are breeding with no purpose – then we can decide how to best deploy our resources.” The group agreed that partnership working and collaboration are both key to tackling equine welfare issues with Claire continuing, “No one charity has the resources to tackle all the welfare problems. I consider other equine charities as my colleagues – we work so closely together to solve the problems together.”
World Horse Welfare Chief Executive, Roly Owers, completed the day with a reflection on the morning’s presentations and his thoughts on the challenges facing the invisible horses of the future. He said: “In order to bring sustainable change for the horses of the future, we must bring practical, actionable and real-world solutions to tackling both current and emerging welfare problems. True change can only happen through engagement, understanding and constructive, open-minded dialogue.”
Roly went on to discuss the importance of recognising the diverse role of equines across the globe and finished the day with an announcement that working in partnership with the FEI, World Horse Welfare will be leading on the first ever World Horse Day which will take place on 17th September 2018. He said: “We invite each and every one of you to join what we hope will be a worldwide movement to celebrate all that is the horse. The more we can focus the spotlight on them, the more they will be seen and the less they will be invisible.”
A three-year study into horse owner attitudes to equine end of life coordinated by Advancing Equine Scientific Excellence (AESE) and supported by World Horse Welfare and The Donkey Sanctuary has revealed that nearly three quarters of horse owners without previous experience of equine end of life have no plan in place.
The research, which is the first of its kind in the UK, collected data from more than 2,500 participants using a combination of depth interviews, focus groups and an online survey. Not only did the research set out to understand why owners do or do not feel able to make equine end of life decisions and the thought process undergone to arrive at these, but it also looked to determine what additional information and support is required to help owners in making these essential decisions.
“Thank you for doing this work … there is a definite need for it to help people make such a heart breaking decision.”
The study found that only one in eight equids die suddenly which means that most owners will be faced with making an end of life decision at some stage; however, less than a third of those who had not previously lost an equine had any sort of plan in place. Participants who had experienced equine end of life were asked what advice they would give to other owners and the majority stressed the importance of having a plan in place.
“Make a timely decision, at the right time. Make up your mind before hand – be prepared and have a plan and get all your contacts ready.”
“Be prepared, money available and know the decision when the time comes.”
“Horse owners should have a plan and tell other horse owners about it – just in case. If you have a plan it does help at such a devastating time.”
Furthermore, the research also found that end-of-life decisions are not just for older animals, with the number of equids who die aged 7-10 years being similar to those aged 26-30 years.
“The donkey I had to have put to sleep before was young; only a year old”
The key influence in owners’ end-of-life decisions was their own assessment of quality of life, but many felt they needed more support in doing so, with around half of owners wanting more information on this and so World Horse Welfare is working to develop a quality of life tool which will provide support for owners in assessing their individual equine.
World Horse Welfare Head of UK Support, Sam Chubbock said:
“End of life is understandably a very difficult subject for horse owners and as a result it can be tempting to avoid thinking about it until you are faced with the decision. However, it is critical that all owners take time to give this some thought whilst their horse is still fit and well rather than waiting until they are facing a devastating situation. I would personally like to thank each and every owner who took time to respond to such an emotional study – it is clear from so many of the comments how difficult it was for them to say goodbye to their companions so I am enormously grateful to them for sharing their experience with us.
“The AESE research has shown that whilst many horse owners do not make a plan, those who have experienced end of life urge others to think about it now and would echo our advice in stressing just how important this is from both a practical point of view and to help remove at least some of the stress from what is a very emotional time.
“Our existing ‘Just in Case’ materials are available to help owners with information and planning around end of life matters, and we would urge horse owners to download and read through these documents, plus fill out the plan which can be then kept somewhere safe until it is needed.
“There is undoubtedly a perception that as an owner you won’t need to think about the decision until your horse is in old age, but the research shows that it can happen at any time of their life and so it is vital to be prepared. As one horse owner said, you should be organised because if your horse, who is your best friend, is in trouble then you need to be able to help them as quickly as possible.”
Dr Faith Burden, director of research and operational support at The Donkey Sanctuary said:
“This has been an enlightening project, and we are grateful to have been involved. End of life is such an emotional time for owners, however having a plan in place can alleviate some of the stress surrounding saying goodbye to a beloved companion. Taking the time to plan ahead really is in the best interests of the donkey.”
To download World Horse Welfare’s Just in Case materials visit: http://www.worldhorsewelfare.org/Just-in-Case or to discuss your own individual situation call World Horse Welfare’s Advice Line on 01953 497238.
The Donkey Sanctuary has several resources available on the subject including:
- Growing Old Gracefully – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rNgjFyB81Fk
- Euthanasia and dealing with death – https://www.thedonkeysanctuary.org.uk/euthanasia-and-dealing-with-death
- Dealing with Death/Euthanasia factsheet – https://www.thedonkeysanctuary.org.uk/sites/sanctuary/files/document/142-1511174718-donkey_health_and_welfare.pdf
- For Veterinary Surgeons: Donkey Quality of Life Assessment Form (available on request)
Participating institutions: Askham Bryan College, Canterbury Christ Church University with the University of Sussex, Duchy College, Hadlow College, Harper Adams University, Hartpury College, Myerscough College, Plumpton College, Reaseheath College, Royal Agricultural University, Sparsholt College, University of Plymouth, Writtle College.
Today World Horse Welfare welcomed Defra’s announcement that CCTV will be made mandatory in all English slaughterhouses. In its response to the results of a consultation on the issue, the Government announced that from spring 2018, CCTV will be required in every slaughterhouse in England in all areas where live animals are present, and that Official Veterinarians (OVs) will have unrestricted access to footage which must be kept for 90 days. Slaughterhouses will have six months to implement the new requirements.
World Horse Welfare Chief Executive Roly Owers said: “We applaud the Government for this welcome advance for equine welfare, as accountability and transparency are essential if the slaughterhouse is to remain an option for horse owners, most especially those who cannot afford the high price of euthanasia.”
World Horse Welfare has campaigned since 2013 for mandatory CCTV in all areas of a slaughterhouse, as recommended by the Farm Animal Welfare Council, and for the footage to be easily accessible by OVs. The charity believes that CCTV can aid the OV in monitoring welfare and also serve as an excellent training resource for slaughterhouses to help make all processes as welfare-friendly as possible.
“Without CCTV in all areas of the slaughterhouse where live animals are present, horses at abattoirs are greater risk of being ‘invisible’ and horse owners needed greater confidence in the process.”
Last year almost three quarters of over 900 horse owners the charity asked through a Facebook survey said they would not have confidence that horse welfare would be protected throughout the slaughter process. While more than 90% of those asked would not use a slaughterhouse to end their horse’s life, almost half of them would consider it an acceptable option if measures were in place such as CCTV which is constantly in operation and available to the relevant authorities for monitoring at any time.
The Government’s consultation response cited that: ‘World Horse Welfare noted that market pressure for CCTV was not present in horse slaughter but there was a need to increase confidence in horse owners that slaughter was a humane end of life choice.’
”We are especially grateful to everyone who has helped achieve this change, either by signing our petition, writing to your MP or sharing the campaign. We have been delighted with the wide support we and other organisations have received on this issue, and we look forward to seeing the details of the proposals.”
World Horse Welfare Polaris makes amazing transformation with Suffolk rehomers
A horse found abandoned in South London at just a few months old has made an amazing transformation and is enjoying a new lease of life as a companion for young racehorses with her Suffolk rehomers, the Southcott family.
When World Horse Welfare Field Officer Nick White first visited Polaris in January 2016, he found her in fly-grazing in a field on Purley Way in Croydon with one other young foal and a mare in poor condition. Nick said:
“Polaris was a small 12hh yearling and I was really shocked at her condition. She had a very thick winter coat but when you felt through this she was just skin and bone underneath-running my hands over her was just like feeling a skeleton through that hair. Her coat was poor, she was suffering from lice and also appeared to have a worm burden, leaving her weak and struggling to survive.
“Despite making extensive enquiries, no owner could be located and so Polaris and her young companion were removed to the safety of World Horse Welfare’s Glenda Spooner Farm in Somerset.”
Polaris underwent several months of veterinary treatment as she recovered from her terrible start in life and once her rehabilitation was complete, she found a loving new home on World Horse Welfare’s Rehoming Scheme with the Southcott family in Saxmundham, Suffolk. Nick travelled to meet Polaris and her rehomers just less than two years since her rescue. He said:
“The way she looks today is absolutely magnificent, I hardly recognised her and she is an absolute credit to the team at Glenda Spooner Farm. From rescue to rehabilitation, the next and most vital step in a horse’s future is the role of the rehomer and we couldn’t continue our work without them.”
Ian Southcott is a racehorse owner and was looking for a youngster to be a companion for promising young filly, Swell Song. He said:
“We saw Polaris and were absolutely taken with her. When she arrived, she stepped off the lorry after her long journey and she seemed instantly at home. Ever since then she has been part of the family and we love her to bits. She sometimes thinks she too is a Thoroughbred when you watch her and her companion galloping around the field together!
“We had no idea of the circumstances in which Polaris had been rescued and it is absolutely incredible that she has turned out into this stunning horse that is so content and full of life. She is very special and it is thanks to Nick and all the team at World Horse Welfare that she is here today and such a lovely horse at that!”
“It is heart-warming to see Polaris in such a caring home where she will be looked after and have a home for life. As with all of our rehomed horses and ponies, Polaris will be visited twice a year by a World Horse Welfare Field Officer and it is great to know that we will always be there to offer any help and support to both Polaris and her rehomer.
“Her welfare will be safeguarded for life and she undoubtedly has a very bright future ahead.”
To find out more about rehoming visit: www.worldhorsewelfare.org/rehoming
A stunning unique sculpture by Tom Hill is to be auctioned to raise money for international charity, World Horse Welfare, after helping the charity to win a gold medal and People’s Choice Award at the 2017 RHS Chelsea Flower Show.
As well as being a centrepiece of the ‘wild and wonderful’ artisan garden, the lifesize sculpture of adoption horse, Clippy, also contains over 40 horseshoes donated by equestrian personalities from the worlds of racing, eventing, showjumping, dressage, showing, TV and public service.
The sculpture is currently on display at the National Heritage Centre in Newmarket and will be auctioned as part of the Cheltenham Countryside Race Day on 17th November of which World Horse Welfare is the benefitting charity. Online bids can be submitted in advance at: http://www.worldhorsewelfare.org/Clippy-Sculpture
World Horse Welfare Director of Fundraising, Emma Williams, said:
“This amazing sculpture was a real talking point at the Chelsea Flower Show and has since been receiving a lot of attention both at our Glenda Spooner Farm Rescue and Rehoming Centre and at the National Heritage Centre so he’d be a fantastic addition for any garden. The fact he is also made up of a number of shoes from equine stars such as Valegro, Big Star, Many Clouds and not to mention some World Horse Welfare ‘celebrities’ – makes it even more unique and a must-have for any avid equestrian sport fan.”
Thank you so much for everyone’s on-going support with the National Equine Health Survey 2017. Here are the results www.bluecross.org.uk/nehs and don’t forget to register and support the survey next year.
World Horse Welfare continues its fight to end the exhausting long journeys suffered by more than 50,000 horses transported across Europe for slaughter each year and the charity now needs support more than ever before.
Each day, more than 130 horses will begin their journey to the slaughterhouse – travelling for thousands of miles across Europe by road before eventually arriving at their destination suffering fatigue, severe stress and completely broken in spirit.
The law which currently allows these journeys to last for up to 24 hours at a time, in an ongoing cycle for days on end, is failing horses and World Horse Welfare is determined to bring change. The charity is asking supporters to sign a petition calling on the European Commission to impose a maximum journey limit of 9-12 hours, which its own scientific advisors have recommended. This would dramatically improve the health and welfare of the horses subjected to this completely unnecessary torment on their way to slaughter as well as making the regulation easier to enforce.
Since launching in May, the campaign has gathered in excess of 13,000 signatures and World Horse Welfare will soon be launching concurrent campaigns in Poland, Italy and Spain, but still needs vital support from the UK public in order to boost impact while we are still part of the European Union.
World Horse Welfare has campaigned to end the long-distance transport of horses to slaughter across Europe since the charity was founded in 1927 and with the help of its dedicated supporters has brought about a number of key improvements, reducing the number of horses transported from 165,000 in 2001 to around 50,000 today and introducing partitions in lorries to prevent severe overcrowding and trampling. This latest campaign is another step towards the charity’s goal of ending the long-distance transport of horses across Europe for slaughter by its 100th anniversary in 2027.
World Horse Welfare Chief Executive, Roly Owers, said:
“We are so grateful to everyone who has supported our campaign so far, signing and sharing our petition and donating to our appeal but we must keep momentum going and continue pressing the European Commission to impose a 9-12 hours maximum journey limit. The stress, dehydration and exhaustion caused by these arduous journeys is completely unacceptable and if horses are to be slaughtered, we believe it should be done as close to source as possible.
“The successes that have been achieved in our campaign over the last 90 years have only been realised due to the unfailing dedication of our supporters and we need as many people as possible to share news of this latest campaign so that we can reach our goal to bring about this vital change in legislation.”
Support the campaign and help World Horse Welfare reach its goal of ending the long distance transport of horses to slaughter by 2027: https://goo.gl/ZofcwD
Sign the petition: https://e-activist.com/page/9211/petition/1?ea.tracking.id=live%20transport
Read why your support is so vital: http://www.worldhorsewelfare.org/Transport-Action-Plan
Owner of Emaciated Horse Left with an Untreated Lice Infestation Banned from Keeping Equines for Life
Philip Strachan (D.O.B 3.10.52) of Stocks Drive, Goole, appeared at Beverley Magistrates Court on Wednesday (6th Sept) and pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering and failing to meet the needs of an aged Thoroughbred mare in his care.
Mr Strachan admitted offences under Section 4 and Section 9 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006, in a prosecution case brought by the RSPCA, after his elderly mare, Tessa, was found severely emaciated, suffering a severe lice infestation and open wound which had not been treated. In addition, she only had access to a shelter with filthy bedding.
World Horse Welfare Field Officer, Sarah Tucker, was alerted to the horse being kept in the village of Lund, East Yorkshire, by a caller to the charity’s welfare line in March 2017. She said:
“I attended the location on a cold, miserable wet day where I found a bay Thoroughbred-type mare wearing a thin blue rug. Even through the rug I could see her hips and pelvic bones sticking out. There was a man-made shelter within the field which had dirty, wet faecal contaminated bedding inside.. I contacted RSPCA Inspector Claire Mitchell and Veterinary Surgeon, Kirsty Nelson of Aldgate Vets, Driffield, and asked them to attend the location. Once they arrived, we removed the rug and found a large wound on her withers that had scabbed and had become attached to the rug. Her coat was dull and she had a severe lice infestation.
“Tessa was an old mare who should have been receiving extra care, not to be left in a field struggling. Seeing her stood alone in the field with only a thin sheet for warmth she looked in a pitiful state, all of her bones were protruding and her body was covered in lice. Seeing any animal in an emaciated state is shocking but this situation was totally unnecessary and could easily been prevented by providing basic care with palatable food, a deep clean bed and an appropriate rug to help maintain body condition.
“Caring for an elderly animal always comes with additional challenges but it is vital that owners seek regular veterinary advice and ensure their needs are being met. It is unacceptable to leave any animal in its twilight years without providing additional care. Anyone concerned about a horse or in need of advice should call World Horse Welfare’s welfare line on 08000 480 180.”
RSPCA Inspector Claire Mitchell said: “Tessa was the thinnest horse I have ever seen. She was very wobbly on her feet and in the state she was in, at her age, the outlook wasn’t good.
“This was a really sad and upsetting case – all animals need a bit of extra TLC when they get older but Tessa didn’t get it, and she suffered as a result.
“Just because an animal is aged doesn’t mean it is normal and okay for him or her to be suffering – if you’ve got an old animal and they are thin or ill then there is something wrong and they need to be seen by a vet.”
Tessa was removed to safety and a place where she could receive the dedicated care and veterinary attention she so desperately needed but unfortunately she was in such a terrible state that she collapsed and the decision was sadly made to put her to sleep 72 hours after her rescue.
Philip Strachan was disqualified from keeping all equines for life, a 12 week custodial sentence suspended for 12 months and ordered to pay £300 in costs.
In mitigation the court heard that the defendant was very sorry for what had happened.