In it for the long haul: Life-long care provided by Mare and Foal Sanctuary

Breeze and his pal Buttons.
Breeze and his pal Buttons in 2013. © Mare and Foal Sanctuary

Britain’s Mare and Foal Sanctuary clocked up its 1000th rescue earlier this year, and the spotlight is on the babies for its new appeal, Foals through the Years. The Devon charity offers a safe home for life, meaning that the many youngsters born there will have care for 30 years or more.

Many of the youngsters who took their first steps at the sanctuary faced life-threatening complications following birth, sometimes because of the difficult circumstances of their rescued mothers.

Breeze is now seven years old.
Breeze is now seven years old. © Mare and Foal Sanctuary

One foal, Breeze, was taken in by the sanctuary in 2013 after he had been rejected by his mother and was trying to suckle others mares in Dartmoor National Park. He had collapsed from hunger and exhaustion and became gravely ill. Around the clock care was needed, and during this time his constant companion was a giant stuffed bear, named Buttons.

Breeze’s story made world headlines in 2013, and he was featured on NBC’s Today News, Huffington Post US and The New York Daily News, as well as UK publications such as The Daily Mail and The Sun.

Young Breeze required extra rehabilitation to help him over his past trauma, and now, as a seven-year-old, is making good progress.

The Sanctuary’s milestone birth was Teyah, the charity’s 1000th rescue since its founding in 1988. Teyah was born at the Devon sanctuary but developed a life-threatening condition. At first it seemed colic was to blame, but it transpired the cause of her pain was a spasming of the urethra, which was preventing her from emptying her bladder.

Jenga and Jumanji on arrival

Jumanji arrived in the Sanctuary as a three-month-old foal at foot.

Her dam Jenga was among a group of 25 horses callously abandoned in South Wales. Most of the horses had parasite burdens and several had to be put to sleep because of the extent of their neglect.

Seven years on, Jumanji is now at the Coombe Park Sanctuary and having completed a successful course of treatment for sarcoids, she has been used for some in-hand work and grooming in Education and Therapy programmes.




Arya was rescued in 2016 after a member of the public alerted the charity that a week-old foal had been found alone on Dartmoor. There was no sign of her dam.

She was quickly brought to the Sanctuary where she was given around the clock care.

Four years on, Arya is doing well and is in training for the charity’s rehoming scheme where she will go out on loan to a knowledgeable carer.

Arya at Upcott







Diangelo’s dam had health problems when she arrived in foal at the Sanctuary in 2018.

She was monitored 24 hours a day in a foaling stable and grooms slept in an adjacent room so that they could provide emergency care if necessary.

She gave birth to a healthy young colt, Diangelo, who is now two years old and 16hh.
Diangelo now 16hh







On a small holding on the edge of Bodmin, a herd of ponies had grown out of control, leading to an extremely dangerous situation. Stallions were running wild and young colts were attacking other ponies. The panicking mares were terrified and trying to protect their foals as best they could.

Numbers had grown too great and the horses and ponies were battling for space and food resources. Tragically, a foal had already died in the chaotic conditions.

Ruby herself was pregnant and, standing at only 9.1hh, she was one of the many vulnerable mares of the pack. She also already had a foal, Logan, at foot.  Ruby then gave birth at the Sanctuary to foal River.

One year on, River has excelled with his training and has recently gone out on loan to a knowledgeable carer, alongside Moonflower.

River and Ruby






Icon arrived at the Sanctuary alongside his dam, Ice, in 2019.

They were among 100 other horses and ponies that were part of a multi-organisation rescue with the RSPCA. The Mare and Foal Sanctuary took in 11 ponies in desperate need.

Despite its experience in dealing with complex health cases Ice’s neglect was extensive and her condition wasn’t going to improve and they had to do the kindest thing they could – put her to sleep. Icon spent his first Christmas at the Sanctuary as an orphan. 

One year on, Icon has progressed well with his training and lives at our Upcott Sanctuary alongside Vagabond.






Orphan foal Ava was found terrified on Dartmoor at only a few weeks old in 2019. Her dam had died out on the moor, leaving Ava completely alone. Something had to be done quickly, as Ava had multiple health issues, such as pneumonia, stomach and liver problems. She needed specialist care.

One year on, Ava has recently been assessed in the hope that she will be ready to go out on loan to a knowledgeable carer.

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