Papillon, now five months old, was born to mother Tortoiseshell at the charity’s Norfolk headquarters, where she continues to grow in strength, curiosity and mischief every day.
Her arrival marks the end of a challenging but rewarding year for Redwings’ vet and equine care teams as they’ve fought to bring Tortoiseshell and her friends back to health following their rescue in November last year.
Tortoiseshell was part of a group of 19 Shire horses discovered fly-grazing (grazing without permission of the landowner) on a site in Bewdley, near Kidderminster in Worcestershire.
When no owner came forward to claim them, powers under the Control of Horses Act 2015 (England) meant ownership of the herd passed into the hands of the landowner, who asked Redwings for help.
With winter approaching, Redwings joined forces with the Blue Cross, Bransby Horses, HorseWorld, World Horse Welfare and the RSPCA to round-up the herd and find them new homes.
Redwings took in six mares and named them after butterflies – Tortoiseshell, Peacock, Cleopatra, Holly Blue, Painted Lady and Swallowtail. However, their recovery at the Sanctuary has not been plain sailing.
Blood tests and subsequent biopsies revealed that the group were suffering from significant and potentially life-threatening liver damage. While the cause was unknown, luckily they responded well to treatment.
Very sadly, however, Cleopatra passed away during the summer due to a severe and sudden bout of colic, and a second foal, named Empress, was heartbreakingly put to sleep due to complications arising from a blood infection.
Papillon’s start to life was also fraught with difficulty; she was born with severely weak tendons in her legs which meant she initially struggled to stand, although happily her legs have strengthened and she now loves to trot around the paddock she shares with her mother.
Lynn Cutress, Redwings’ Chief Executive, said: “With little provision for their care, it’s safe to say that if we had not intervened by rounding-up this large group of Shires last November, their welfare would have been at dire risk – proven by the subsequent discovery of their liver problems.
“Handling such a number of heavy horses is a real challenge, but thanks to the efforts of our teams, these special Shires are now receiving all the care they need and they’ve already become beloved members of the Redwings family.
“We were truly heartbroken to lose Cleopatra and then little Empress, however seeing Papillon go from strength to strength has lifted our spirits. We’ve pledged her, and the rest of the Shire group, a safe home with us for life so we’ll be there for them every step along the way!”
Redwings is a charity funded entirely by donations from the public. To help support the care of Papillon and the Shire herd, call 01508 481000 or visit www.redwings.org.uk/donating.