A large intake of welfare cases this spring has left the International League for the Protection of Horse’s (ILPH) Norfolk centre so full that it is unable to accept any new emergency cases, forfear of overcrowding.

Despite re-homing nearly 100 companions between September 2000 and March this year, the ILPH is still looking for suitable loan homes for around 20 companion horses and ponies.

Nadine Hawkes, operations support manager, said: “We are now full to capacity and these 20 or so Norfolk-based companions desperately need to find homes. If we don’t manage to place them, we will have no room to take in any more emergency cases.”

The ILPH philosophy is that all its horses and ponies should lead happy lives in private homes where they can receive personal care and attention. The aim is to nurse sick animals back to health, rehabilitate them, break and school them, if necessary and find them suitable loan homes.

“Not all the companions are old,” explained Nadine. “Some are young, but can’t be ridden because of birth defects or injuries sustained before they came to us. They are all at our Norfolk centre through no fault of their own and deserve loving homes.”

The companions seeking homes come in all shapes and sizes, from Swallow, a 25-year-old black Thoroughbred former military police horse, who left the force after being hit by a London bus, to Cassie, a claustrophobic 13.2hh part-Welsh pony who has to live outside all year.

Cole, an eight-year-old black Thoroughbred, described as “an easy horse to do, with the sweetest temperament” is also looking for a loan home.

For more information about the ILPH’s loan scheme and the companions call the ILPH (tel: 01953 497238 /497231).