Bright future for ponies rescued from Whispering Willows ‘sanctuary’

  • Ponies rescued from the Whispering Willows “sanctuary” are looking forward to a brighter future in new permanent homes.

    Frankie, Barbie (pictured, above) and Dec (below) are just three of the 137 horses removed from Whispering Willows in November 2019. They, and all the others taken to World Horse Welfare’s Penny Farm, have now found new homes.

    Frankie, now three, was underweight, with a high worm burden and “terrified of human contact” when he was rescued.

    “It has taken a lot of time and experienced nursing and handling in the charity’s care to turn him into the happy, healthy and confident young horse that he now is,” a spokesman for World Horse Welfare said. Frankie was one of 137 horses and ponies rescued in a multi-agency operation, also involving the RSPCA, Redwings, the British Horse Society, the Horse Trust, Blue Cross, The Mare & Foal Sanctuary and The Donkey Sanctuary.

    World Horse Welfare took 47 of the ponies. Zoe Clifford, visitor officer at Penny Farm Rescue and Rehoming Centre in Lancashire, said: “It’s always wonderful to see ponies that came to us in such a poor state reach the stage where they are ready to move on to the next phase of their lives in the care of rehomers.

    “Seeing the contrast between the terrified little things that arrive and the confident, sleek animals that leave us really shows the amazing work the team does in turning these animals around. But the reality is that it’s taken a while to get to this point and that illustrates just how much effort, time and resources are needed to care for these animals properly.”

    Zoe added that the Whispering Willows group was a “particular challenge for us here on the yard”.

    ‘To have so many feral ponies arrive at the same time took a real team effort to work with them to gain trust and begin the rehabilitation process,” she said.

    “Working with ponies like this over several months creates a real bond with the yard staff and every step offers a sense of achievement as we see them develop both physically and mentally to a stage where they can be rehomed. Lots of the group, like Frankie, were all youngsters (under three years old) so it’s then really important that we can match them up with rehomers who can carry on their education. It’s always rewarding to catch up on their development and Frankie is really settled in his new home and going from strength to strength.”

    Barbie and Dec were also underweight, sick and scared when they arrived at Penny Farm, but both were rehomed together just before Christmas by Heidi and her family.

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    Heidi said: “I was only intending to get one companion pony for our horses, but when I saw Dec and Barbie together my heart melted. They are so sweet and I cannot repeat often enough what incredibly well-mannered ponies they are.

    “The team at Penny Farm have done an amazing job, the ponies are in fantastic condition and they lead in headcollars better than any of our horses do. They run to the gate to see us when we come to take them in, they are so friendly!”

    The owner of the Whispering Willows sanctuary, Sandra Jane Kvaerneng Stolp, pleaded guilty to four offences under the Animal Welfare Act, on 15 February, and was banned from keeping all horses for 10 years and ordered to pay £1,000 in costs and a £90 victim surcharge. She must also serve a tagged 20-week curfew and must not leave her home between 9pm and 6am. The court heard in mitigation Stolp was struggling financially to care for the more than 100 horses in her care.

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