A single call to the World Horse Welfare’s UK Welfare Line by a concerned member of the public led to 32 horses being taken into their care, and around 100 more being taken in by other charities.

The horses were all unhandled, and their rehabilitation has taken time, but now their futures are bright. Two of the 32 horses taken in by World Horse Welfare were Clio and Astra, a pair of unhandled yearling fillies who came to the charity’s Hall Farm Rescue and Rehoming Centre in Norfolk. When they arrived both ponies were underweight, suffering from worms and very scared of people but their grooms worked tirelessly to gain their trust and the pair have been completely transformed from the timid scraps they arrived as.

As their rehabilitation progressed, Clio and Astra proved to be bright, enquiring ponies, despite their terrible start in life. Eventually, they were ready to rehome for youngster handling, and both Clio and Astra received a lot of interest through the charity’s online rehoming site and are now happily rehomed with their new families to continue learning about life.
The start of this heart-warming journey for Clio and Astra began when a concerned member of the public phoned the UK Welfare Line about a group of horses, and other animals, at a large site by the M25. One of World Horse Welfare’s Field Officers, Becky Bedson, attended the site and found a very large group of horses in need of help as the owners were no longer able to cope.

Becky, and fellow Field Officer Chris Shaw, worked hard to gain the owners’ cooperation and co-ordinated a multi-agency operation to remove over 130 horses from the property to safety. Due to the large number of animals involved - as we are seeing in an increasing number of rescues - the removal operation, financing the operation, providing transport and finding space to take in the animals relied on cooperation between World Horse Welfare and a number of other NEWC (National Equine Welfare Council) member organisations, large and small, including British Horse Society, Blue Cross, Bransby Horses, Essex Horse & Pony Protection Society, HAPPA, The Horse Trust, Redwings, RSPCA, The Donkey Sanctuary and Thornberry Animal Sanctuary.

Eleven of the rescued horses came into the care of World Horse Welfare’s Glenda Spooner Farm Rescue and Rehoming Centre in Somerset and another 21, including Clio and Astra, came to Hall Farm; the others were distributed among the other rescue organisations. The majority of these horses were completely unhandled and very nervous, and many had numerous health problems. Many of the mares were pregnant, which will further add to the numbers of animals needing to be looked after when their foals are born over the coming months.

Becky says: “It was heart-breaking to see how nervous some of these horses were at first – they clearly hadn’t been handled at all and were so scared of humans. Clio and Astra’s transformations are a testament to the dedication and endless patience of their grooms – to see such frightened yearlings blossom into friendly young ponies is just incredible. A call to our Welfare Line really can transform horses’ lives.”

The rehabilitation plan for each horse is individual to their needs and, once ready, they are offered for rehoming. Rehoming an animal from World Horse Welfare creates space at the centres for more horses in need to be taken in.

Many of these horse welfare cases first come to light by a call being made to the confidential UK Welfare Line, 0300 333 6000. If they are concerned about a horse, members of the public can call with first-hand information and the team will collect a number of details and information from each caller which helps to determine whether a Field Officer should attend and how urgently the horse/s in question might need to be seen.

The UK Welfare Line receives thousands of calls each year and World Horse Welfare relies on donations to maintain the line. The charity’s current appeal is asking for caring people to donate just £3 a month to ensure the continuation of the UK Welfare Line and a kinder future for horses and ponies. Visit https://bit.ly/3imOWK3 for more information.