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Australian offers lifetime support for Spindles horse

August 17, 2010

A long-standing British horse charity has launched a scheme in which individuals or companies can sponsor the full costs of looking after a horse in its care.

Red on arrival at The Horse Trust.

Red gained 71kg in his first four months at the sanctuary and is now in good health.

The first to take up The Horse Trust's scheme is an Australian who wanted to make a difference in the life of a horse from Spindles Farm.

Spindles Farm was the scene of one of the biggest horse-rescue operations in British history, in which more than 100 horses were removed to the care of charities early in 2008.

Victoria Casey, who lives in Australia's Barossa Valley, was determined to sponsor Red, one of the ponies rescued from Spindles Farm, Amersham, after a visit to the Horse Trust.

Of all the horses, ponies and donkeys rescued from Spindles Farm, the 14 considered most at-risk were taken to The Horse Trust at Speen.

They were too weak to travel further and required extensive veterinary treatment to help them recover.

Victoria, who has two rescue horses at her home in Australia, first heard about the Spindles Farm rescue in spring 2008.

She followed the court case over the next year and in autumn last year, during a business trip to Britain, visited The Horse Trust to meet some of the Spindles Farm horses.

One of the charity's grooms introduced her to Red. Red, at 14.2 hands, is an older gelding. He was severely underweight when he arrived at The Horse Trust.

He gained 71kg in his first four months at the sanctuary and is now in good health, although he is still shy around humans.

"When I stood at his stable door, Red promptly turned his back on me and moved to the far corner," said Victoria. "The fact that he did not seek out the casual touch of a stranger was perfectly understandable, given what he must have endured in the pens at Spindles Farm.

"After that unimaginable experience, I didn't want him to be loaded on a truck again and to have to adjust to a new environment. So many people were appalled by the case, yet in sponsoring Red I feel I have done something positive for the 'victims'. I wanted Red to remain where he feels secure, with the equine friends he's made since his rescue," Victoria said.

Victoria Casey
Victoria describes Red as a "modern day Black Beauty", because of his "greatly fallen circumstances and happy ending".

Unlike most of the Spindles Farm horses, Red had a passport so an earlier owner could be traced. She said Red had been part of her family and had competed in various events, including horseball championships in France.

As well as sponsoring Red for the remainder of his life, Victoria has chosen to sponsor another Spindles Farm horse, partially blind mare Angel, for six months, in the hope that this will provide enough time for another sponsor to be found and for her to be able to stay.

"I did not actually meet Angel during my visit, but was familiar with her story. She, too, has found sanctuary at The Horse Trust and I hope that someone else will be able to ensure that she can stay there by supporting the costs of her care," she said.

"Each of these horses has a sorry tale to tell. What is important now is for us to provide them with a secure future. We owe them that."

The Horse Trust said the new scheme involved finding one sponsor for each horse. Each sponsor will be asked to pay around £3000 annually.

Sponsors will be sent regular updates and photos and can visit their horse at the sanctuary, getting a personal tour.

"At present The Horse Trust is unable to run a general horse adoption scheme as our lean administrative team would be unable to handle the vast task of sending out regular updates to hundreds of sponsors," said marketing and fundraising manager Susan Lewis.

"This scheme is targeted at horse lovers who are able to commit to a larger annual payment and would like a more personal relationship with the horse they're sponsoring," she said.



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