Huge strides by most vulnerable Spindles Farm horses

January 6, 2011

The Horse Trust has marked the third anniversary of what was thought to be biggest horse seizure in British history, noting the remarkable progress made by the 14 most at-risk animals removed from Spindles Farm.


Tarna (at front) and former Spindles horse Angel.


Angel on arrival at The Horse Trust.

Of the more than 100 horses, ponies and donkeys rescued from the Amersham property from January 4-9, 2008, the 14 considered most at-risk were taken to the trust's property in Speen, Buckinghamshire.

This group were too weak to travel further and required extensive veterinary treatment.

Trust yard manager Shirley Abbot said that, three years on, she still clearly remembers the horror of the rescue and is delighted with the progress the horses have made.

"I'll never forget that Friday evening when the first horses arrived," she said.

"I've never seen anything so horrendous in my life - the horses that arrived literally fell down the ramp. I burst into tears when I saw that. It's very rewarding to see them now compared with how they were."

All the animals taken in by the trust were underweight and had numerous health problems, including strangles, salmonella and parasite infections.

The charity has spent the last few years nurturing the animals back to health and most are now in good health.

One horse who has made a remarkable recovery is Angel, a blind mare who was severely underweight when she arrived and was reluctant to walk anywhere due to her sight loss.

Under the charity's care, Angel's weight has more than doubled and she is now confident walking around the fields at the sanctuary.

Ali Johnson, Angel's groom, said: "When Angel arrived, she used to crash into fences and would fall over uneven ground. She can cope in any of our fields now and has been very clever at learning where the field boundaries are - I haven't seen her walk into a fence for a couple of years."

Angel's progress is partly thanks to the friendship she has developed with one-eyed horse Tarna. The two horses are now inseparable with Tarna guiding Angel to food, defending her from other horses and acting as a physical shield from obstacles.

"Tarna and Angel were moved into the same field in the summer of 2008 and they have been friends since. Tarna leads Angel to the haylage and defends Angel from the other mares.

"The fact that one eye is supporting both horses is amazing," said Ali.


Disney is among the Horse Trust's success stories. He's pictured above on arrival, and below after rehabilitation.

"Tarna and Angel are now inseparable and I wouldn't dream of bringing them in separately from the fields unless it's only for a few minutes. If Tarna is left behind she stands and screams until Angel comes back."

Other animals that have made a good recovery include jenny donkey Gladys, who was unable to stand unaided for 10 days due to starvation.

A few of the younger Spindles Farm horses have made such a good recovery that they can be rehomed. Geldings Disney and Dazzle have been found new homes, but Star and Walt are still waiting for someone to offer them a home.

Sadly, not all the horses rescued from Spindles Farm were able to recover.

Despite receiving intensive veterinary treatment for a year after arriving from Spindles Farm, colt Bill died in January 2009.

His death, caused by parasite damage to his intestine, was a legacy of the neglect he suffered at Spindles Farm.

Some of the young horses from Spindles Farm still need veterinary treatment so cannot be rehomed, such as gelding Duke who underwent sarcoid treatment at the University of Liverpool in summer 2010 and has since suffered from severe colic.

Gelding Ben has had problems with intermittent lameness for which he is receiving treatment and it is uncertain whether he can ever be rehomed.


Spindles Farm horse Walt, who is looking for a new home.
The Horse Trust is currently looking for sponsors for the Spindles Farm horses that cannot be rehomed due to their age or ongoing veterinary problems.

It costs the charity, on average, £12 a day to look after each of its residents, which includes the costs of grooms, forage, farriery and veterinary care.

It is also looking for a home for Spindles Farm horses Star and Walt. Both horses have not been backed and will require an experienced horse owner. For more information contact the charity.