A group of exceptionally traumatised horses and ponies who “faced death” at a horror farm surrounded by bodies of dead animals have had their lives transformed.
In August 2015 Bristol-based welfare charity HorseWorld was part of a multi-agency operation with the RSPCA, Redwings, The Donkey Sanctuary and World Horse Welfare, rescuing more than 60 feral horses and ponies from “states of extreme neglect”, at a farm in the southwest.
HorseWorld assistant yard manager Vicky Greenslade said: “I have never seen anything as horrific as the conditions the animals were living in.
“There were hundreds of animals. Those who had managed to survive were starving; the bodies of the ones who hadn’t were covering the ground around us. The horses were running totally wild. Stallions, mares and foals, left to fend for themselves, had formed family groups.”
Vicky said the horses were “totally feral and terrified”.
“We had more than 60 wild horses to try to separate into groups so they could be transported to other welfare organisations. Only then could we start their lengthy rehabilitation,” she said.
“It was vital we didn’t cause any more trauma than they had already experienced, but separating them was essential for their health.”
HorseWorld took in 13 of the horses and ponies, two of whom were pregnant.
“It’s hard to imagine what was going through their minds when they were literally having to fight for survival every day,” said Vicky.
“As soon as our team started to try to work with the group, we knew these were exceptionally traumatised animals. In some cases it has taken years to try to help them feel that being around humans is a good place to be.”
The spokesman said a new chapter had been especially joyful for Enzo, who arrived as a foal with his mother Sierra.
“Sierra was even more fearful of humans than the rest of the herd, so Enzo had no human contact until he was old enough to be weaned. With careful and patient training from the team, he has since been rehomed and thanks to the love and dedication of his new carer has just started being ridden,” he said.
“It’s always brilliant when our rescued horses go on to find loving homes, but when these guys leave us to start new chapters of their lives with fantastic families it’s even more rewarding.”
The spokesman added that Perry, another foal of Sierra’s, was born at the charity and did not have to experience the “horrors of neglect” to which Sierra and Enzo were subjected.
“Perry has developed into a very sweet natured pony so much so she appeared at Your Horse Live as a representative of the HorseWorld herd. She has now gone to her new forever home,” he said.
“Others from the group have also been be rehomed with carefully selected loaners. Finding homes for them has been especially challenging because they have been so affected by their experiences on the farm and will probably have behavioural issues for the rest of their lives, so pairing them with people who have the necessary patience and experience has been essential.”
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The spokesman said for remaining ponies Lexus, Kia, Nova, Morris, and Leyland, the next chapter is “yet to be written”.
“All have made exceptional progression in their training with the team and are now waiting to find families who can understand their past, and help them find the confidence to live a much happier future,” he said.
“Some of the ponies rescued are still so troubled by their experiences there they will never be rehomed, but will live out their days happy and healthy as part of the HorseWorld herd.”
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