A number of the horses rescued from the Whispering Willows sanctuary have been renamed in honour of the NHS and are enjoying “happy and healthy” new lives.
Redwings Horse Sanctuary was one of the charities to take in some of the 137 horses removed from Whispering Willows, Wales, in November 2019.
A Redwings spokesman said following the recent conviction and sentencing of Whispering Willow’s owner Sandra Jane Kaverneng (known as Sandra Stolp), the charity was finally able to talk about the horses in its care.
The spokesman said 23 horses arrived at Redwings in “varying states” of poor health.
“Unfortunately, we had to make the difficult decision to put four to sleep shortly after their arrival when it became clear that their health issues were too great to overcome,” he said.
“Each was suffering from severe pain and vets were sadly unable to relieve their discomfort.”
The remaining 19 horses received worming, farriery, and dental checks, and following the start of the coronavirus pandemic the horses were named after NHS hospitals in tribute to the country’s frontline healthcare workers.
“Their names include Alexandra, Gwent, Radcliffe, Paget, Good Hope and Princess Royal,” said the spokesman.
“Due to their previous lack of handling, the majority of the very nervous group are now receiving ongoing care and training at our specialist behaviour centre in Norfolk.”
Redwings’ head of welfare and behaviour Nic de Brauwere said: “One of the saddest things was that people believed the sanctuary was offering a wonderful home, however it was clear that the horses were receiving wholly inadequate levels of care.
“There were horses who, due to their age-related ailments, compounded by their lack of care, were needlessly suffering and the kindest and most responsible thing to have done would have been to put them to sleep long before we got involved.”
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“Sadly, when things went wrong, these horses suffered the consequences”
Mr de Brauwere, who is also chair of the National Equine Welfare Council and helped coordinate the charities involved in the rescue operation, said the remaining horses have recovered well physically but most are spending time at the behaviour centre to “undo the neglect of their behavioural needs” at Whispering Willows, which left them fearful of people.
“It will be some time before any of them are ready to be assessed for possible rehoming in the future, but for now they’re enjoying happy and healthy new lives at the sanctuary,” he said.
“Too many times we’ve seen sanctuaries struggle and fail when owners take on too many animals without the necessary care knowledge, experience or finances, which is why we’ve been calling for the regulation of rescue centres and sanctuaries as a vital next step to protect the welfare of animals in the UK.”
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