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Alarming Rise in Horse Welfare Concerns

12 March 2015
World Horse Welfare

UK - Over a decade on from Penny Farm Rescue and Rehoming Centre taking in its first large group of horses, World Horse Welfare Starsky is flying high – but sadly, the demands on the charity are escalating.

The horse crisis looms heavy, confirmed by the fact that in the last year alone we took in 259 horses which is a 43 per cent rise on our yearly average.

One alarming trend that we are experiencing is the rise in the number of large groups of 10 or more horses coming into our Rescue and Rehoming Centres. “The pressure this puts on our Centres,” says Deputy Chief Executive Tony Tyler, “is compounded by the fact that all too often these groups consist of mares and stallions so there are invariably mares who arrive with us in foal.”

Over a decade ago World Horse Welfare began to see the shocking consequences of indiscriminate breeding. In 2004 the team at Penny Farm Rescue and Rehoming Centre brought in one of the first large groups – a case of 18 ponies, whose owner was later charged with neglect. The group included ten mares who had been left to run with two stallions resulting in four of the mares coming to the Centre in foal.

Ten years on and World Horse Welfare Starsky, one foal from the group who was fortunate enough to be born at Penny Farm, has been given a life that most horses can only dream of.

Starsky was rehomed as a youngster then returned to Penny Farm to be backed. He was a real superstar pony even then and was soon rehomed to the Cooper family. Thanks to the care and patience of the team at Penny Farm who backed Starsky and the relationship he has built up with 16-year-old Grace Cooper, he has excelled at almost everything he has turned his hoof to.

He was the North West’s Pony Racing Champion for two years running and more recently he qualified for the British Eventing Jump Training Championships at Hartpury College in Gloucestershire. They also have high hopes for their latest endeavor together - Polocrosse – as they are aiming to be part of the England Squad.

The Cooper’s are brilliant at flying the flag for our Rehoming Scheme because Starsky has been such a talented and trustworthy addition to their family. Grace’s mother Lorraine says that Starsky tries so hard and that he and Grace are the very best of friends. “They spend hours together and I completely trust Starsky to look after Grace. It’s difficult to even think about the future Starsky would have had if his mother hadn’t been rescued by World Horse Welfare. Now he is such a confident, fun-loving and friendly pony and we are so grateful to have been able to give him the home he deserves,” says Lorraine.

When the Coopers lost their 14.2hh Connemara Clifton to lymphoma four years ago Grace was determined to rehome rather than buy a pony. They tried out three ponies at Penny Farm Rescue and Rehoming Centre and Grace fell for Starsky almost immediately. Lorraine says: “This friendly Cob couldn’t have been more different to Clifton, who excelled at dressage, but there was a spark between him and Grace that has grown into the most remarkable relationship.”

In 2014 World Horse Welfare rehomed over 300 horses, ponies and donkeys, which is a ten-year record. Tony says that January 2015’s figures show that the enthusiasm for rehoming is stronger than ever: “Early indications for January are very encouraging for another record-breaking year and demonstrate that people really do see rehoming as a safe and viable option. Frustratingly however the number of horses needing urgent rescue and rehabilitation far outweighs the number being rehomed – the need is greater than ever,” he says.

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