Beleaguered Bermuda horses take flight for new homes

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EquiJet assisted in the transport of horses by sea and air to the US for the Bermuda SPCA. 
EquiJet assisted in the transport of horses by sea and air to the US for the Bermuda SPCA.

A group of horses with an uncertain fate in Bermuda are facing a brighter future thanks to a charity, dozens of volunteers, and an equine air transportation service.

A dozen horses and ponies were caught up in the liquidation of the Spicelands Riding School, in Warwick, late last year. The equestrian centre opened in 1967 as the Warwick Riding School.

The Bermuda SPCA agreed to assist the liquidators and what followed was an extraordinary operation. Equestrians and horse lovers from across the island worked together to ensure the horses were relocated swiftly.

Stables across the island opened their doors to help and many of the horses were placed locally in foster homes. Several horses were housed temporarily at the newly completed Stempel Stables, on site at the Bermuda SPCA’s Valley Road, Paget shelter.

Shelter President Sarah Tafur said the outpouring of support to care for the horses was “heartwarming” and showed how a community could come together in times of need.

“Each person’s contribution counted and resulted in fantastic care. Some volunteers did early mornings, some raced off from work to do lunch shifts, some after work, some gave up their weekends, some did week after week and some did shifts here and there, and, surprisingly, even some visitors to the island did shifts,” Tafur said.

When an opportunity came earlier this year for several of the horses to be rehomed overseas, EquiJet  handled all of the transportation paperwork and requirements. Weeks of careful planning and waiting for suitable weather to make the crossing ensued. After several delays the first group of horses left Bermuda via ship bound for the US on May 15, followed by the second group via air on June 25.

The horses arrived safely and the local team was thrilled to see the horses enjoying large, lush green pastures.

“It was a unique challenge to move the horses from the island, but one that was especially rewarding now that they are settled in their new homes in the United States,” EquiJet owner Bastian Schroeder said.

The location of each of the horses, locally and abroad, is confidential. This is the policy of the Bermuda SPCA for all fostering and adoptions as a measure of protection of confidentiality for both the animals and their new owners.

“As the island’s only animal shelter, the SPCA found homes for 200 animals and reunited dozens of lost pets with their families in the past year. Our work is dependent upon the generosity of individuals and the corporate community and is greatly assisted by a strong team of volunteers,” Tafur said.

Several of the horses are now in new homes in the US after being transported from Bermuda by sea and air.
Several of the horses are now in new homes in the US after being transported from Bermuda by sea and air.

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