Rescued horses will be coming up roses at Chelsea Flower Show

Jonathan Smith, left, and Adam Woolcott are designing World Horse Welfare's entry at the Chelsea Flower Show.
Jonathan Smith, left, and Adam Woolcott are designing World Horse Welfare’s entry at the Chelsea Flower Show.

A moving tale of horse rescue will feature at the Royal Horticultural Society’s Chelsea Flower Show in 2017 with an artisan garden inspired by and celebrating charity World Horse Welfare’s 90-year legacy of helping horses.

The concept, brought to life by design duo Adam Woolcott and Jonathan Smith, will tell the story of a horse rescued from a small, derelict stable in a dark corner of the garden and nursed back to health under World Horse Welfare’s care – now living in a bright, open meadow where he can thrive and continue his journey to rehoming.

A life-sized sculpture of a horse made from reclaimed horseshoes from famous horses and supporters of World Horse Welfare, designed by Tom Hill, will stand proud in the meadow looking towards a future full of hope. Renowned equine artist and sculptor Judy Boyt will also design a feature in the stable, and the garden will be built by contractors Cormac Conway, who have worked with Woolcott and Smith before.

A horseshoe sculpture designed by Tom Hall, who will create the horse for World Horse Welfare's Chelsea Flower Show entry, using horseshoes donated by supporters and from celebrity horses.
A horseshoe sculpture designed by Tom Hall, who will create the horse for World Horse Welfare’s Chelsea Flower Show entry, using horseshoes donated by supporters and from celebrity horses.

Designed to provide a poignant, visual representation of World Horse Welfare’s work, the garden will pay tribute to the charity’s supporters who have played a vital role in the past 90 years whilst highlighting the need to continue shining a spotlight on invisible horses around the world, whose suffering goes unnoticed or ignored.

The garden is loosely based on the story of ‘Clippy’, a horse who was found in a small, neglected stable with strange clips attached to his head collar which had started to dig into his neck. He was in a terrible state. Today he is well on the road to recovery and a picture of health.

World Horse Welfare Director of Fundraising Emma Williams, said: “We are delighted that the World Horse Welfare Garden will feature at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show in 2017 and want to express heartfelt thanks to our garden designers, plus our very kind and generous private donor who has funded the garden.

World Horse Welfare's Chelsea Flower Show entry is loosely based on the story of Clippy.
World Horse Welfare’s Chelsea Flower Show entry is loosely based on the story of Clippy.

“Exhibiting at RHS Chelsea provides an invaluable opportunity to engage with both new and existing supporters, as well as showcasing our work, to a new audience in a way which is completely unique to anything we have ever done before.

“We hope the garden will be thought-provoking and emotive. We want to encourage people to reflect on the plight of neglected and abused horses and be inspired to join us in taking action to help them. Without the support of the public, we would simply not be able to continue our work and so the garden will pay tribute to all the people who support us in many different ways.”

Adam Woolcott and Jonathan Smith said they were delighted to be asked to design World Horse Welfare’s garden.

“Chelsea is the ‘Oscars’ of the gardening world and to be able to exhibit at the highest level is an honour.  It was after visiting one of the charity’s Rescue and Rehoming centres, meeting some of the horses that had been rescued from abuse and neglect and hearing some of their stories that we decided we definitely wanted to be part of the project,” they said.

“We were already aware of the work of World Horse Welfare from one of our customers, who is a keen supporter of the charity, and being huge animal lovers, we knew that we had to get involved.”

The plan of World Horse Welfare's Chelsea entry.
The plan of World Horse Welfare’s Chelsea entry by Woolcott and Smith.

The pair are best known for their traditional, nostalgic gardens, using wildflowers and reclaimed materials with an emotive message.

“After a bit of brainstorming we decided on a design that would tell a story of a neglected horse who had been rescued from a dark, derelict place and liberated into a safe and open meadow. We felt that we could create a memorable and beautiful garden that would convey a powerful emotion and a draw in visitors. We are incredibly excited by the project and can’t wait to get started.”

Following the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2017, elements of the World Horse Welfare garden will be used as part of individual ‘In Memory’ gardens at each of the charity’s four Rescue and Rehoming Centres around the UK – creating a legacy which can be enjoyed by visitors to the centres for many years to come and highlighting how important gifts in wills are to the charity.

World Horse Welfare has named 2016 the year to highlight the world’s invisible horses who often suffer in silence as people either cannot or choose not to see them. From the horses left in barns and stables for weeks on end, to those working many hours every day on the streets of Choluteca in Honduras or Cape Town in South Africa who go unnoticed by governments and policymakers, to the horses transported long distances across borders to uncertain futures and those who sadly are sometimes found too late.

Adam and Jon’s “Diary of a Chelsea Garden” blog

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