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Severely mistreated horses rehomed at Redwings Horse Sanctuary

A group of horses that made national headlines after being severely mistreated have been taken in at a south Norfolk animal sanctuary.

In late 2019, a total of 137 horses were taken from two farms in Wales after they were discovered to be severely malnourished and close to death - and relocated to animal sanctuaries across the UK.

Following the conviction of the sanctuary’s owner last month, it has been revealed that 23 of the horses were taken to Redwings Horse Sanctuary, in Hopton.

Gwent, one of the 23 mistreated horses that were taken in at Redwings. Photo: Redwings Horse Sanctuary
Gwent, one of the 23 mistreated horses that were taken in at Redwings. Photo: Redwings Horse Sanctuary

Such was the severity of the horses’ mistreatment that four had to be put down, however after receiving basic care, the remaining 19 have recovered well.

The horses were taken from Whispering Willows, a sanctuary in Pontardawe, near Swansea.

Nic de Brauwere, Redwings’ head of welfare and behaviour, who provided support during the horses’ removal from Whispering Willows, said: “One of the saddest things was that people believed the sanctuary was offering a wonderful home, however it was clear that the horses were receiving wholly inadequate levels of care. There were horses who, due to their age-related ailments – compounded by their lack of care – were needlessly suffering and the kindest and most responsible thing to have done would have been to put them to sleep long before we got involved.”

In November 2019, the horses were taken to Redwings, where they received basic care - including worming, farriery and dental checks.

Mr de Brauwere added that the sanctuary – which will often care horses before they are re-homed elsewhere – will not be in any rush to move the horses on.

He added: “Of the 23 horses Redwings offered a home to, we unfortunately had to say goodbye to four shortly after their arrival because, despite the combined efforts of our vets, farriers and carers, we were sadly unable to make them comfortable enough to stop them from suffering.

“On a physical level, the remaining horses have recovered well but most are currently spending time at our specialist Behaviour Centre to undo the neglect of their behavioural needs experienced while at Whispering Willows, which left them fearful of people. It will be some time before any of them are ready to be assessed for possible rehoming in the future, but for now they’re enjoying happy and healthy new lives at the Sanctuary.”

Having much of their time at the sanctuary coincide with the coronavirus pandemic, staff at Redwings saw it would be only fitting to name them after NHS hospitals in tribute to the country’s frontline healthcare workers. Names of the horses include Alexandra, Gwent, Radcliffe, Paget, Good Hope and Princess Royal.

Whispering Willows owner Sandra Jane Kaverneng-Stolp was sentenced to a 20-week community order, with the condition she stays indoors from 9pm until 6am each day. She was also ordered to pay £1,000 costs and has been banned from keeping equine animals for 10 years.

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