The Blue Cross opened its first equine rest and retirement centre on Saturday 5 April.

The charity has converted its equine centre in Northiam, East Sussex into the charity’s first dedicated centre for permanently retired and resting Blue Cross horses and ponies.

Kerstin Alford, Blue Cross director of equine welfare said: “There are currently more than 500 Blue Cross horses and ponies in loan homes around the country and as they get older they will need increasing levels of care that the borrower may no longer be able to provide.

“The new facility at Northiam means that should any of our equines need to come back to us and not be suitable for further rehoming, they can spend the rest of their days in a peaceful sanctuary with the specialist care they deserve.”

Horses and ponies are rehomed on a ‘monitored loan’ basis — meaning that they remain under the ownership of The Blue Cross, receive regular visits from equine field officers and can return to the charity at any time should the borrower’s circumstances change.

The Northiam centre has 35 acres of grazing and a capacity for up to 30 animals.

There are already 23 animals at the centre — the majority of which are retired due to age or medical conditions. Several youngsters are also currently at the centre waiting to be transferred to other centres for rehoming.

The Blue Cross will continue to rehome and rehabilitate horses and ponies at its centres in Burford, Oxfordshire and Rolleston, Staffordshire, but animals un suitable for rehoming will be transferred to Northiam.

Ms Alford added: “Our dedicated rehoming and retirement facilities mean that we can offer them lifetime security, regardless of their age, health or behavioural needs.”

www.bluecross.org.uk