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‘I knew I had to say yes’: crisis urges welfare workers to act in 450km challenge

Three RSPCA workers who are directly involved with rescuing and rehabilitating horses are covering 450km in 15 days to help equines in need.

Equine operations manager Claudia Corner, inspector Suzanne Smith, and Millbrook Animal Centre’s equine yard supervisor Charlotte Neary will walk, run, cycle and ride 150km each, inspired by the animals they help and looming concerns over a worsening horse crisis.

“I’ve worked for the RSPCA for a long time and I really wanted to do something positive during these difficult times,” said Claudia.

“I am very passionate about animal welfare, in particular equines, and this has been a huge part of my life for the last 20 years.

“During the coronavirus crisis, all charities have suffered with a huge loss of income and this is my small way of giving something back.

“I’ve never been a runner so I thought I could do a bit of running, walking, cycling and riding and clock up the miles.”

Since lockdown started, the RSPCA has received more than 2,000 reports concerning horses, but the charity fears worse is to come as the world faces an uncertain economic future.

“I thought it sounded like a huge challenge when Claudia first suggested it but with some support from my husband, I decided I could do it,” said Charlotte, who has worked at RSPCA Millbrook for nine years.
“In these difficult times, it was important to me to raise some funds and raise awareness of the stories of the horses I have looked after.

“We had nearly 900 horses in our care at the end of last year but they are not just numbers to me, each one is an individual animal who has overcome some awful times, and now they are in lovely homes. If it wasn’t for the team at the RSPCA they wouldn’t have had the opportunity to know love or have their happily ever afters.

“All the horses I have rehabilitated and rehomed have taught me something along the way too, so I feel like I am giving something back to them by doing this.”

A statement from the charity added that equine welfare charities were already under “immense strain” as a result of the ongoing horse crisis, sparked by the 2008 recession, and the sector is “extremely concerned about welfare repercussions for horses in months ahead”.

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Inspector Suzanne Smith, who primarily covers Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Gloucestershire, said she wanted to do something to help when she saw the effect Covid-19 was having on charities.

“I was very wary to commit at first as I only took up running last year at which point I could barely run for more than one minute. So to cover 150k in 15 days is going to be a big challenge for me,” she added.
“Equines alone cost the RSPCA £4.8 million a year and if we want to continue to be able to help them, I knew I had to say yes to this challenge.”

To support Claudia, Suzanne and Charlotte’s challenge, visit: https://www.justgiving.com/team/equineteamanimal

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