“No shame” in asking for help, says equine welfare charity

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Mare and Foal Sanctuary staff lead George and Tomahawk out of the cattle shed.
Mare and Foal Sanctuary staff lead George and Tomahawk out of the cattle shed. © Mare and Foal Sanctuary

A cob and a shetland pony who had been confined to a concrete yard for more than a year are now enjoying a better outlook on life after their owner, who could no longer care for them, reached out to a charity for help.

George, a 27-year-old bay cob, and Tomahawk, a 12-year-old skewbald shetland, are settling in well at equine welfare charity the Mare and Foal Sanctuary near Newton Abbot, joining more than 600 other rescued horses and ponies.

The Mare and Foal Sanctuary’s welfare outreach and advice team found that the pair had been confined to their yard with just a cattle shed for shelter. They had various health issues and their routine worming and lice treatments were long-overdue, meaning they were burdened with internal and external parasites.

Their Devon owner had been struggling to provide the level of care these horses needed because of a change in their personal circumstances. They contacted the Mare and Foal Sanctuary, which offers “no-shame advice and support” to horse owners.

Tomahawk had a history of laminitis and has equine asthma (RAO). His feet were long and his toes “slippered” and he had thrush in each foot. George had rubbed his coat where lice had irritated him, he had bilateral hindlimb stiffness and poor grazing ability because of his worn incisors.

The charity agreed with the owner that George and Tomahawk’s needs could not be met under the circumstances, so an emergency intervention was taken – bringing great relief to their owner.

The pair arrived at the sanctuary’s welfare and veterinary centre in Newton Abbot and both have recently completed their quarantine period. They now have a sanctuary for life.

George, 27, had lice and poor teeth, and was lame in the hind.
George, 27, had lice and poor teeth, and was lame in the hindquarters. © Mare and Foal Sanctuary

George and Tomahawk’s arrival a month ago brought the total equines rescued by the Mare and Foal Sanctuary in 2021 to five, or an average of one rescue per month. As the restrictions of the pandemic ease, the charity is relieved that its rehoming scheme can be fully promoted once again — a vital way to create space at its sanctuaries for new rescues.

Welfare advisor Leah Brock was involved in their rescue. “I am pleased the owner had been brave enough to contact us for help and relieved for George and Tomahawk. They have a safe and secure future.”

Tomahawk, 12, had a history of laminitis and has asthma.
Tomahawk, 12, had a history of laminitis and has asthma. © Mare and Foal Sanctuary

The charity has recently rebranded to reflect the breadth of its work, which has expanded considerably in recent years, and secure future support for the charity. Chief executive Sarah Jane Williamson said the colourful new look  “reflects the hope and positivity we hold on your behalf for every equine in our care”.

“We remain a place for people who want to make a difference to the lives of foals, horses and ponies,” Williamson said.

Welfare advisor Leah Brock with George.
Welfare advisor Leah Brock with George. © Mare and Foal Sanctuary

The Mare and Foal Sanctuary rescues horses and ponies that have been abandoned,  neglected or abused.  It also ensures that horses and ponies have a sanctuary for life. Most horses and ponies are given care for life through its network of knowledgeable carers. Those horses and ponies with more complex needs are cared for in its sanctuaries.

The charity has particular experience in managing and training feral or unhandled horses and ponies, and caring for mares in foal and orphaned or abandoned foals.

The Mare and Foal Sanctuary was founded on the principles that horses and ponies, as sentient beings and close companions of humans over the centuries, have a value and a purpose. It provides equine assisted learning programmes to enable people to connect with horses and ponies and gives advice and support to any horse or pony carer. It has four sanctuaries and five charity shops in the South West.

» Those wishing to help the charity support its daily work to provide lifelong care to horses and ponies like George and Tomahawk, can donate here.

» Learn more about rehoming a rescue horse or pony

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