Rehoming successes: from charity case to equine star

  • Applejack (registered as Boultbees Applejack)
    Age: 10
    Height: 14.2hh
    Breed: Welsh X Thoroughbred

    Applejack was one of a number of starving ponies rescued from Aberdare in
    South Wales by the Society for the Welfare of Horses and Ponies (SWHP). At nine months old, he was so light that he was carried to the trailer. Now he’s competing in affiliated horse trials.

    Applejack’s story:
    After arriving at the SWHP’s Horse Hospital at Coxstone, looking more like a woolly bear than a pony, Applejack (Jack) was gradually nursed back to health.

    The main task was to eliminate the worm burden he was carrying and to sort out his diet to build up muscle and strength. In fact, Jack was one of the lucky ones, as another of the ponies he was rescued with died due to excessive worm damage.

    When he was 18 months old, Jack was rehomed with Jenni Morgan from Coalville in Leicestershire. Jenni had been looking out for a pony for her grandchildren to ride but, after backing him, she discovered Jack’s scope and started riding him herself.

    At 5ft 4in tall, Jenni was small enough for the plucky 14.2hh pony and began to win showing classes and local riding club dressage competitions. However, it soon became obvious that this rescue pony’s talents didn’t end there, as he was a superb jumper, too. As Jenni prefers not to jump, she set about finding a local teenage rider who could realise Jack’s full potential.

    Eventually Jenni came across 14-year-old Alannah Gray, a member of the South Trent branch of the Pony Club from Melbourne, Derbyshire. Alannah’s main passion in life is eventing and so far, the pair have been going great guns.

    As Jack is not quite big enough to register fully, they have been competing in affiliated horse trials on day tickets and are now aiming for the Junior Regional Novice Championships at Weston Park in October.

    ILPH Penny (now called Hallmark)
    Age: Seven
    Height: 15.3hh
    Breed: Irish Draught

    ILPH Penny (pictured) was one of four Irish Draught mares saved from appalling conditions by the International League for the Protection of Horses (ILPH) in March 2001. She is now an important member of the King’s Troop Royal Artillery gun team and, as well as her official duties, she appears at events and shows all over the UK.

    Penny’s story:
    Following a complaint about the conditions some horses were being kept in at a smallholding in Pickering, North Yorkshire, ILPH and RSPCA staff discovered Penny and three broodmares knee-deep in their own excrement. The horses had been owned by a 76-year-old man who’d had heart surgery and could no longer look after them.

    When four-year-old Penny arrived at one of the ILPH’s recovery and rehabilitation centres – Penny Farm, near Blackpool, Lancashire – she was extremely skinny, worm-infested and covered in lice.

    Initially, staff wore body protectors and hats while handling the mare. They also tried to go in and out of the crew yard, where she was kept, as often as possible, so that Penny became used to having people around.

    Gradually, Penny started to gain trust in the grooms and became more affable and easier to handle.

    By September 2001, Centre Manager Tony Fleming, who had served with the King’s Troop Royal Artillery for 25 years, realised that Penny could have the potential to join the troop. He got in touch with some of his old contacts at the troop’s headquarters in St John’s Wood, London, and, by September of that year, Penny was on her way into army service.

    The mare then completed two months’ training, during which she was broken to saddle and ridden out in the thickest of London traffic. Tony attended her passing-out parade in the December of that year and, by March 2002, Penny had become a fully paid-up member of the gun team. Her progress through the ranks was so swift that she even took part in the Queen Mother’s funeral, where she was part of a six-horse team pulling a gun carriage.

    According to Tony and his former colleagues at the King’s Troop, Penny is a natural at her new job.

    Fliss and Daytona
    Age: 24
    Height: 16hh
    Breed: Thoroughbred

    Age: 19
    Height: 16hh
    Breed: Thoroughbred

    Fliss and Daytona were two of 16 racehorses rescued by HAPPA in 1997. Discovered standing in 3ft of their own excrement, both horses went on to lead happy lives with foster owners. Fliss enjoyed a successful show career, while Daytona still enjoys show jumping and eventing.

    Following a call from the police about the condition of 16 former racehorses in Lancashire, staff from the Horses And Ponies Protection Association (HAPPA) investigated and realised they would have to dig the horses out of their own manure.

    The squalid conditions the horses had been living in became even clearer when staff found the decomposed body of another horse underneath some pallets in the solidly-packed excrement.

    All the animals were exhausted and extremely weak when they were unloaded back at HAPPA’s Shores Hey Farm Rescue Centre in Burnley, Lancashire. They were emaciated, crawling with lice and had open sores.

    Temporary stabling was erected in the car park to cope with the sheer number of horses and the long, hard work of bringing the animals back to health began. Their owner was subsequently jailed for three months, banned from keeping horses and dogs for life and fined £10,000.

    Fliss’s story:
    Fliss was rehomed with Beverley Jones, who competed on her with much success. The highlight of her career was when Fliss won the 15- to 20-year-old category in the Super Solvitax Awards for veteran horses in 1999. Fliss has since returned to HAPPA to retire.

    Daytona’s story:
    Daytona was also successfully rehomed through HAPPA’s loan scheme and now lives happily with borrower Lisa Crabtree.
    The mare is enjoying much success in show jumping, eventing and hunter trial competitions.
    Last year, she came fourth at the Gloucester winter indoor show jumping championships, ninth at the Peterborough Festival of the Hunter, sixth at the Offchurch Bury two-day event championships and eighth at the Lincoln summer show jumping championships. Daytona and her borrower are also having side-saddle lessons.

    Rehoming schemes
    If you are interested in rehoming a rescued horse, contact the National Equine Welfare Council (NEWC), which represents 58 welfare charities. Its website is located at www.newc.co.uk and contains contact details and web addresses for each of its member organisations. The ILPH’s site, for instance, allows you to search online for a suitable horse.
    Alternatively, contact NEWC’s executive secretary, Elaine Cannon, at 10 Wales Street, Kings Sutton, Banbury, Oxon OX17 3RR,
    tel: (01295) 810 060.

  • This article first appeared in HORSE (September issue)


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