“Death queue” ponies on road to a brighter future


Twenty-six horses rescued last month from horrific conditions in southern Wales are now looking forward to a bright future, sporting new names based on famous detectives and crime writers.

The scene at Caerphilly in Britain was described by a senior Redwings Horse Sanctuary official as on a par with the notorious Amersham horse rescue of five years ago.

Jessica and her foal Dr Watson.
Jessica and her foal Dr Watson.

Redwings’ head of welfare, Nic de Brauwere, a veterinarian, said of the rescue on February 21: “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.”

Today, the animals face a very different future. De Brauwere explains: “The ponies were extremely weak and malnourished in varying stages of emaciation.

“We have to treat their condition carefully, with managed levels of feed, plus we have had to treat their physical conditions such as lice etc. They have turned a corner and we can see their moods improving daily, which makes it all worthwhile.”

The ponies have all been named after famous detectives and crime writers, including Agatha, Tuppence, Scully and Sherlock.

One of the ponies, named Jessica Fletcher, has been lying down for long periods and was so weak and thin that she was then unable to get up unaided.

Redwings’ care staff have had to manually lift her every few hours for the first few days, but report that she is now growing stronger and is able to stand for longer periods by herself.

Agatha is proving a real character.
Agatha is proving a real character.

Her foal, Dr Watson, was also very subdued on arrival but is now much brighter and more alert.

Meanwhile, an elderly mare called Agatha, thought to be in her 20s, had a condition score of just 1 and was unable to eat hay or other long fibre as her teeth were causing her pain.

She is being fed small meals of soaked high fibre cubes and is improving daily; her teeth will also be treated by our resident vets.

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 vets and eight handling staff to the site to bring back 26 horses and ponies to Norfolk.

Four others 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.

Rescuers remove the horses from a property in Caerphilly.
One of the horses being removed from the property in Caerphilly.

Redwings described the case as on a par with the notorious Amersham rescue, where living horses were found among carcasses.

The high profile rescue from the Amersham “hell farm” shocked everyone and made international news, the charity said. “We are so sad that, five years on, it has happened again.”


Donations for the animals’ care are being gratefully received. To donate towards the care of the Caerphilly ponies, text code RWHS00 followed by the amount you want to give (eg RWHS00 £5) to 70070, go to www.redwings.org.uk/donations.php?appeal_id=48 or telephone 01508 481000.


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