Horror scenes: “It was if they were queuing to die”

Rescuers remove the horses from a property in Caerphilly.
Rescuers remove the horses from a property in Caerphilly.

A horrific scene found by horse rescue personnel in Britain has been described as on a par with the notorious Amersham horse rescue of five years ago.

Redwings Horse Sanctuary, which still has 63 horses, ponies and donkeys in its care from the infamous Amersham rescue from Spindles Farm in January 2008, is involved in another rescue involving horses it said were effectively “queuing to die”.

Twenty-six horses arrived in Norfolk on Thursday night as part of the rescue operation.

Caerphilly Borough Council’s Trading Standards Department led the rescue from two sites in Caerphilly, with expert help given by Redwings.

Redwings sent three trucks, two veterinarians and eight handling staff to the site yesterday to bring back the 26 horses and ponies to Norfolk.

Four have been taken to HorseWorld in Bristol, while four more suspected to be linked to those responsible have already been removed to the SWHP charity in Monmouth.

Redwings said it took part in many welfare cases involving individual horses and groups. However, this case was easily on a par with the Amersham rescue where living horses were found among carcasses.

The high profile rescue from the Amersham farm shocked everyone and made international news.

Redwings’ head of welfare, Nic de Brauwere, a veterinarian, said of the latest rescue: “It was a horrific scene, with many extremely weak and malnourished ponies.

“There was virtually no grass, so while the site appeared very scenic, there was little or nothing for them to eat.

“They are in varying stages of emaciation; we have given them a condition rating which matches the Amersham horses.

“Some of the horses are already dead, and others would almost certainly have died if we had not intervened when we did.

“I can only describe it by saying it was as if they were queuing to die. It was an utterly depressing and heart-breaking scene I hoped I would never have to witness again.”

The 26 animals in the worst condition were removed on Wednesday and, the following day, made the journey to Norfolk to begin their rehabilitation. It was felt that recent cold weather had worsened the pitiful condition of these horses.

Councillor David Poole, cabinet member for community and leisure services at Caerphilly County Borough Council said: “I am appalled that these horses and ponies could be kept in conditions such as these, and this was an excellent example of a local authority working with animal welfare organisations to protect animals in need.

“The operation was a success and I’d like to thank all concerned for their efforts. These horses are now receiving expert care to get them back to health.”

De Brauwere said Redwings was operating at capacity.

“It has not been easy for us to take 26 horses in and bear all the necessary expenses associated with their care and expert rehabilitation.

“We are so grateful to HorseWorld and SHWP as without their assistance with transport and housing we may simply not have been able to help. But this is why the equine charities are here, and this is what our supporters help us to do.

“It’s just awful to find yourself again separating the dead horses from the living and asking yourself how anyone can let this happen.”


To donate towards the care of the Caerphilly ponies, text code RWHS00 followed by the amount you want to give (for example, RWHS00 £5) to 70070, visit www.redwings.co.uk/donating or telephone 01508 481000.


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