WHW concerns re foal numbers

World Horse Welfare research to find the number of foals born in the UK has revealed that it is almost impossible to quantify just how many join our horse population each year.

As part of its campaign to raise awareness of the world’s ‘invisible horses’, World Horse Welfare contacted 66 equine passport issuing organisations (PIO’s) in the UK to request data on the number of foals recorded by them in 2014. Data received from the 38 PIOs who responded, combined with an estimate on the others who did not respond, would suggest a total of around 25,000 foals were born and recorded in 2014.

Whilst EU legislation requires all horses and ponies to have a valid passport and corresponding microchip by the time they reach six months of age or by December 31 in the year of birth, thousands of foals and youngsters may slip through the net every year as owners may not have them identified and a passport issued.

World Horse Welfare Chief Executive, Roly Owers said:“Our best estimate, based on data received is that something around 25,000 foals were born and recorded with a PIO in 2014.   Based on a total UK equine population of 800,000 the true number is likely to be around 40,000, with thousands of foals born every year that are unrecorded and therefore invisible.

Thousamds of foals are unrecorded each year Photo: World Horse Welfare

Thousamds of foals are unrecorded each year
Photo: World Horse Welfare

“This may be a crude estimation but is based on evidence from both World Horse Welfare and a number of other charities and organisations This failure to apply for a passport in time is not only contrary to current EU regulations but it puts these animals at a much higher risk because they are effectively invisible and not on anyone’s radar.

“Whilst a percentage of them may go on to have careers in sport or become leisure animals loved and pampered by their owners, we know that many are just as likely to face an uncertain future because there are simply not enough homes for the number of horses we are producing each year in the UK.

“Our latest figures show there are more than 4,000 horses at risk in the UK and thousands more already in the care of charities, many of whom are struggling with limited capacity and stretched resources. World Horse Welfare alone took in over 100 horses in just 40 days before Christmas which represents almost one third of the charity’s maximum stocking level.

“Foals born into this market landscape may struggle to find homes.  Those that are on a PIO database are likely to be much better off because their owners are taking responsibility for them by getting them identified but it’s the foals that are not identified who are a greater concern to us.

“They are invisible to the system, and cannot be linked to anyone responsible for their care. In addition no vet can administer a medicinal product to a horse or pony unless it has a passport so this adds to the problems that these animals may face if they become ill.”

World Horse Welfare has named 2016 the year to highlight the world’s invisible horses who often suffer in silence as people either cannot or choose not to see them. The year-long campaign will highlight the plight of these horses, making them ‘visible’ so they can receive the care and protection they so desperately need with the first quarter of the year aimed at highlighting the number of foals born into uncertain futures and the wide-reaching impact this has on horse welfare.

See more about WHW at:http://www.worldhorsewelfare.org/our-pledge-to-supporters

 

 

Changes to Olympic eventing

Changes to Olympic eventing have been under discussion  and the British Equestrian Federation, on behalf of British Eventing (BE), has recently submitted a reply to an International Equestrian Federation (FEI) Proposal concerning the future of eventing at the Olympic Games.

BE pulled together a wide range of eventing experts, including competition organisers, riders and owners, to form a working group and lead discussion from a British standpoint. Drawing on a vast wealth of experience the group addressed proposed changes relating to format and presentation of the three phases of the eventing competition, based on Olympic Agenda 2020 recommendations.

The working group also embraced opportunities around engagement as the sport strives to uphold a forward-thinking approach to reaching and exciting new, and particularly younger, audiences to boost popularity and exposure worldwide.

Dressage rider Carl Hester competing at the Olympics Photo: Georges Souvier

Dressage rider Carl Hester competing at the Olympics Photo: Georges Souvier

Following the FEI suggestion to allow a maximum of three horse/rider combinations per nation with a reserve, BE proposes keeping a four rider team for each nation with no reserve rider. BE recommendation is for four combinations to compete in the first two phases (Dressage and Cross Country) and, if appropriate, all four to present for the second Horse Inspection.

Based on the current FEI rule whereby at the Olympic Games only a maximum of three riders can qualify for the second round of the show jumping phase (which decides the Individual medals), BE recommends that only three combinations should progress to the show jumping phase in the first instance. Nations would declare which three riders from each team would move forward to the final phase after the second Horse Inspection.

BE felt that this would lower the risk of teams not completing and remove the need for creating a complicated scoring system.

Name change:

Based on Eventing being part of the sport of ‘Equestrian’ at the Olympic Games along with the use of the word ‘Triathlon’ which is defined as ‘an athletic contest consisting of three different events’, BE felt the FEI’s proposed name change from Eventing to Equestrian Triathlon best described the sport and supports a future change of name.

But in order to maintain the inclusion of Eventing in the Olympic programme it says it is extremely important for  to be easily understood and enjoyable for viewers in Rio 2016. Taking this into consideration BE agrees with the FEI’s recommendation to complete all of the dressage competition in one day, along with continuing the current format of one day for both the cross country and show jumping phases.

BE felt much more excitement could be provided by running the cross country in reverse order of dressage results, making the scheduling and reporting of ‘top contenders’ and medal hopefuls easier to broadcast and for consumers to follow. BE also agrees with the FEI suggestion of generating more excitement in the show jumping phase by having each nation’s team members in the arena at the same time along with the team competition being the final event – followed by the medal presentation.

 

 

WHW spectacular Olympia display

World Horse Welfare Yogi and Saphire demonstrated their true talents when they took to the Grand Hall at Olympia prior to Christmas. The London International Horse Show as part of the World Horse Welfare Santa vs Scrooge Celebrity Scurry Stakes.

Each pony was accompanied by an experienced driver, plus an equestrian celebrity including Olympic gold medallist and World Horse Welfare Patron, Pippa Funnell and Founding Editor of In-Harness magazine, Fiona Powell who acted as backsteppers to keep the carriages balanced as they twisted and turned around the arena at speed.

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Pippa unnell in the WHW display at Olympia Phto: WHW

Pippa unnell in the WHW display at Olympia Phto: WHW

World Horse Welfare Yogi stood victorious, driven by his rehomer Liz Harcombe and backstepper, Fiona Powell. The winning contestants were then invited to celebrate by throwing a bucket of iced water at World Horse Welfare Chief Executive, Roly Owers who said:“It’s been a fantastic evening and wonderful opportunity to showcase the amazing talents of our ponies in front of such a huge audience. I’m immensely proud of what our team has achieved in putting this display together and very grateful to both Pippa and Fiona for taking part – it certainly made the ice bucket worthwhile!

“We are deeply honoured to have been chosen as Charity of the Year for the Olympia London International Horse Show 2015 and hope that the display will encourage more people to think about rehoming when they see the quality of horses and ponies that we have on our rehoming scheme.”

 

See Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VpnUj9AOqZM

Pippa Funnell, MBE said:“If you’re thinking about getting a horse or pony, then why not go to World Horse Welfare? There are all sorts of things these ponies are capable of and that’s what is so exciting. World Horse Welfare have a fantastic range of horses and ponies available for rehoming and a great team of people who are happy to advise you. I’d love to take both Yogi and Saphire home tonight but I’m not too sure William would be very pleased!”

Yogi came into World Horse Welfare’s Hall Farm Rescue and Rehoming Centre in 2006 as a completely untouched two year-old. He was very nervous of human contact but thanks to the experienced handling and care of the World Horse Welfare team he matured into a well-mannered pony with lots of potential. He was broken to drive more than five years ago and since then has had fantastic success competing at national level with his rehomer, Liz Harcombe – recently starting tandem work. Yogi will be taking the role of Scrooge on Friday, driven by Liz with Fiona Powell riding pillion.

Saphire came into World Horse Welfare’s Hall Farm Rescue and Rehoming Centre three years ago and required intensive physiotherapy to build up her strength. Following the dedication of the team, she is now progressing well in her training and loves showing off her driving skills and stunning good looks. Saphire will be taking the role of Santa on Friday, driven by Amy Last with Pippa Funnell riding pillion.

 

Appleby sets sights on Wolverhampton

Last season’s champion All-Weather trainer Charlie Appleby is set to well-represented at Wolverhampton on Saturday, December 12, with Anglophile, Festive Fare and Winslow due to run on a valuable eight-race card.

More than £100,000 prize money is on offer throughout the evening, with Anglophile having been declared for the £20,000 32Red Conditions Stakes (8.45pm) over an extended two miles.

Trainer Chalie Appleby Photo: John Simpson

Trainer Charlie Appleby Photo: John Simpson

The Tapeta contest is a Fast-Track Qualifier for the £150,000 32Red All-Weather Marathon Championships over two miles on Polytrack at Lingfield Park on Good Friday, March 25.

Anglophile (Adam Kirby) was first or second on all six of his appearances during the 2014/2015 All-Weather Championships, with three victories including a facile success in a two-mile conditions race at Lingfield Park in January.

The four-year-old was beaten a head in the 32Red All-Weather Marathon Championships on Good Friday and also filled the runner-up spot on his only subsequent start, when finding Famous Kid (Saeed bin Suroor/Oisin Murphy) six lengths too strong in a 14-furlong handicap at Chelmsford City on November 6.

Anglophile in action: Photo John Simpson

Anglophile in action: Photo John Simpson

Godolphin trainer Appleby commented: “We purposely gave Anglophile the summer off and were pleased with his re-appearance at Chelmsford City.
“We have 8lb to find on the ratings with Famous Kid, who won very well that day, but Anglophile has certainly stepped forward since that run. We have a fair bridge to gap but I am confident that our horse will put up a good performance again.

“He is a typical Dubawi in that he is getting better with age. He is definitely a stronger individual compared to last season’s championships and is a hardened campaigner now. The trip and conditions will be no problem and I feel that we head to Wolverhampton with a good chance.”

A field of eight for the 32Red Conditions Stakes also includes recent Kempton Park handicap winner Moonrise Landing (Ralph Beckett/Graham Gibbons) and The Twisler (Jane Chapple-Hyam/Jamie Spencer), who captured a Listed race at Goodwood in August.
Entihaa (Alan Swinbank/Ben Curtis) and Sunblazer (Kim Bailey/George Baker) have both scored over the course and distance, with Percy Veer (Sylvester Kirk/Jack Mitchell) and Longshadow (Jason Ward/Luke Morris) also set to line up.

Three-year-olds Festive Fare (Adam Kirby) and Winslow (Martin Lane) are due to run in the richest race of the night, the £45,000 Coral Handicap (7.45pm) over an extended nine furlongs, which has attracted a high-class field of nine.Festive Fare is unbeaten in two appearances on the All-Weather, having posted a pair of wins over a mile at Kempton Park and Lingfield Park at the start of 2015, and was beaten two and a half lengths by Golden Horn when coming home fourth in a Newmarket Listed race in April.

Fstive Fare winning a handicap at Kempton Photo: John Simpson

Festive Fare winning a handicap at Kempton
Photo: John Simpson

The son of Teofilo was fifth in the Group Two King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot and is set to make his first appearance since finishing fourth in a Haydock Park handicap over 10 and a half furlongs on August 8. Winslow readily beat subsequent Norfolk Stakes winner Baitha Alga in a Haydock Park maiden in May, 2014, but the son of Distorted Humor has been restricted to just two starts since.He stayed on well to take fourth in an extended mile handicap at Wolverhampton on his first outing for more than 15 months on November 28.

Appleby added: “Festive Fare was two from two on the All-Weather last winter, when he looked that he was going the right way, but his turf form has left a little bit to be desired. He has been gelded and I have been pleased with his work. He is a horse that we thought a lot of during the spring and, hopefully, a switch back to the All-Weather will see him return to the horse that we thought he could be.

“Once we realised that it wasn’t happening for Festive Fare on the turf, we gave him a good break and structured his training for a winter campaign. It could be a big shout now, but we are hoping that he might be a horse for the Winter Derby and the Easter Classic.
“Time will tell whether he is up to that level but those are the sort of targets we are looking at as things stand. He is fit enough to run well on Saturday – he will find a couple of pounds for the run – and we will be disappointed if he is not in the first three.

“We were delighted with Winslow’s reappearance at Wolverhampton. We liked him as a two-year-old but he has had his setbacks. He has come on for his first run for more than a year but the step up in distance is a bit of an unknown. We are hoping that we might see further improvement with the step up to this trip.

“Generally, I wouldn’t run two horses in a race like this but they have completely different running styles. Festive Fare will be ridden positively and Winslow will be ridden conservatively to get the trip.”

New animal management and saddlery school opens

Capel Manor College’s School of Animal Management and Saddlery has been renamed The Princess Royal College of Animal Management and Saddlery, London. This is in recognition of HRH The Princess Royal’s ongoing involvement with Capel and her encouragement to develop the school since she first suggested the idea in 1986.

HRH The Princess talks to a sudent in the saddlery department

HRH The Princess talks to a sudent in the saddlery department

The school’s new £3.6 million facility at the Capel centre in Enfield was opened recently by HRH The Princess Royal.

The purpose-built complex offers state-of-the-art resources to benefit all of the College’s animal management and saddlery students, no matter at which of Capel’s centres across London they are based.

HRH The Princess Royal talks to saddlery students

HRH The Princess Royal talks to saddlery students

College Principal Dr Steve Dowbiggin OBE said:  “We are delighted by this honour. It really gives Capel students kudos, we know we are one of the best Colleges in the country but this underpins that.

“The renaming of our school recognises the interest shown by Her Royal Highness in this aspect of our activities and the encouragement she has given us over the years to invest in this area to ensure Londoners have access to the best facilities in the country if they are interested in studying animal management, saddlery or related industries.”

Construction has just finished on the new complex, which will provide more than 1,000m² of modern learning space which includes exotic and reptile animal housing, laboratories, classrooms, a dog grooming parlour and a teaching veterinary unit. 

The new building will be integrated within a two-acre landscaped complex housing animals from all over the world in eco zones representing their natural habitat. The new facilities are part of continuing developments across Capel’s animal management provision which has already seen a £1.5 million investment in the future of its students in this area.

Vice Principal, Malcolm Goodwin said: “These new facilities will give those studying at Capel vocational opportunities equal to the best in the world – our horticultural, floristry and garden design facilities are already second to none and this – along with the new centre for the School of Arboriculture and Countryside Management – will mean everyone lucky enough to study at the College will have access to a unique experience.”

 

Bid for special copies of Calling the Horses

World Horse Welfare charity is offering a unique opportunity to bid for a signed copy of the late Sir Peter O’Sullevan’s book ‘Calling the Horses’ which is signed by Sir Peter himself plus the legendary JP McManus, the Head family and Sir Peter’s great friend, Joanna Lumley.

WHW is  auctioning two signed copies of the book via an ebay auction to raise money for Compassion in World Farming and World Horse Welfare. You can find a link to the auction here: www.ebay.co.uk/itm/272057246106

For decades Sir Peter O’Sullevan was one of the iconic sports commentators, providing the soundtrack for half a century of horseracing as he called home such legends of the sport as Arkle, Nijinsky, Red Rum and Desert Orchid. His rapid-fire commentary seemed to echo the sound of horses’ hooves, and it was not long before he became known as ‘The Voice of Racing’.

Sir Peter O' Sullivan's book

Sir Peter O’ Sullevan’s book

But in addition to his legendary status as a TV personality, Sir Peter O’Sullevan was also a notable journalist and much-admired writer, and it is a measure of his standing both within and beyond the world of racing that his compulsively readable autobiography Calling the Horses, first published in 1989 and reprinted eight times, reached the top of The Sunday Times non-fiction bestseller list.

The most recent edition of Calling the Horses was published in 1994, and the twenty years since then have brought many fresh episodes in the ongoing Peter O’Sullevan story, including the last racing days of his great friend Lester Piggott in 1995, his commentary on the ‘Bomb Scare’ Grand National of 1997, and his retirement from the BBC.

He also describes how he inspired the establishment of World Horse Welfare’s international programmes to help working horses in the developing world, and setting up the Sir Peter O’Sullevan Charitable Trust, which has raised over £4.1 million for animal welfare charities.

Last but not least, he offers his appreciation of a new generation of racing heroes, including recently retired jockey AP McCoy, who dominated jump racing in a manner unparalleled in any sport, and the wonder-horse Frankel.

The heartening news for the legions of Sir Peter O’Sullevan fans is that his enthusiasm for racing remained undiminished, this is reflected in the elegance, fluency and wit which infused his writing style. This extensively updated edition of Calling the Horses is a very remarkable book by a very remarkable man.

Start bidding now!

 

Golden Horn is Cartier Horse of Year

Golden Horn was named as the Cartier Horse of the Year at the 25th annual Cartier Racing Awards, European horseracing’s equivalent of the Oscars last night, Tuesday Nocember 10, at the Dorchester Hotel, London.
Owned and bred by Anthony Oppenheimer, the John Gosden-trained Golden Horn was an outstanding performer throughout 2015. Partnered by the revitalised Frankie Dettori, the Cape Cross colt gained four Group One wins – the Investec Derby at Epsom Downs, the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown Park, the QIPCO Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown and, perhaps his greatest victory of all, in Europe’s richest race, the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp.
Golden Horn Photo: John Simpson

Golden Horn Photo: John Simpson

His final start came in the Breeders’ Cup Turf at Keeneland, USA, on October 31 when he went down by half a length to Found. However, that defeat took nothing away from a tremendous season and he retires to Dalham Hall Stud with only US Triple Crown hero and Breeders’ Cup Classic winner American Pharaoh rated higher anywhere in the world.
Golden Horn saw off competition from Solow, Muhaarar and Legatissimo to be the Cartier Horse of the Year, while he also takes the Cartier Three-Year-Old Colt Award ahead of Muhaarar, Gleneagles and Jack Hobbs.
Solow gained compensation by becoming the Cartier Older Horse Award winner. The remarkable five-year-old grey gelding was a revelation when dropped in distance in 2015, with an unbeaten campaign yielding five Group One victories in England (three times), France and Dubai.
Solow following his victory at Glorious Goodwood Photo: Jeannie Knight

Solow following his victory at Glorious Goodwood
Photo: Jeannie Knight

Trained in France by Freddy Head for owners the Wertheimer Brothers, he looks sure to remain a major player next season. The other nominees in the Cartier Older Horse category were Treve, Esoterique and Amazing Maria.
There was also just reward for Muhaarar, who takes the Cartier Sprinter Award. The three-year-old, trained by Charlie Hills for Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum, began the season as a potential Guineas candidate but, after finishing eighth in the Poule d’Essai des Pouliches, he proved an outstanding sprinter when dropped in distance. After success in the inaugural running of the Group One Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot, he went on to capture three other Group Ones,  the Darley July Cup at Newmarket, Deauville’s LARC Prix Maurice de Gheest and the QIPCO British Champion Sprint at Ascot. The other nominees in the Cartier Sprinter category were Goldream, Mecca’s Angel and Twilight Son.
Legatissimo‘s tremendous efforts throughout 2015 have resulted in her gaining the Cartier Three-Year-Old Filly Award. A supremely tough and talented performer, the filly ran in six Group One races this year, winning three and finishing second in the other three, losing out by a short-head in two of them. Trained by David Wachman for a Coolmore syndicate, her victories came in the British Classic, the QIPCO 1000 Guineas at Newmarket, followed by the Qatar Nassau Stakes at Goodwood and the Coolmore Fastnet Rock Matron Stakes at Leopardstown. Her rivals in the Cartier Three-Year-Old Filly division were Simple Verse, Found and Covert Love.
Simple Verse became only the second three-year-old to win the Cartier Stayer Award. Trained by Ralph Beckett for Qatar Racing Limited, she was the first filly since 1992 to land the Ladbrokes St Leger. Having been demoted to second at Doncaster on the day by the stewards for causing interference to the runner-up Bondi Beach, connections decided to appeal and she became the first horse to be awarded a Classic on appeal. The other candidates for Cartier Stayer honours were Trip To Paris, Order Of St George and Vazirabad.
Both awards for juveniles went to horses trained by Aidan O’Brien for Coolmore partnerships. Cartier Two-Year-Old Colt honours go to Air Force Blue, who secured three Group One victories – the Keeneland Phoenix Stakes, the Goffs Vincent O’Brien National Stakes and the Dubai Dewhurst Stakes – which make him a red-hot favourite for Classic honours in 2016. The other nominees in this category were Shalaa, Buratino and Johannes Vermeer.
Minding was the winner of the Cartier Two-Year-Old Filly Award. She is a dual Group One winner – the Moyglare Stud Stakes and the Dubai Fillies’ Mile – and these victories propelled her to the head of the market for the 2016 fillies’ Classics. Ballydoyle, Lumiere and Acapulco were also nominated in this division.
The Cartier/Daily Telegraph Award of Merit went to Jack Berry. The 78-year-old has spent a lifetime in racing as a jockey and trainer as well as a tireless fundraiser and campaigner for injured jockeys. This year saw the culmination of his fundraising activities with the opening of the new £3-million Jack Berry House in Malton, Yorkshire, which offers top-quality facilities for jockeys recovering from injury in the north of England.
Harry Herbert, Cartier’s Racing Consultant, commented: “The Cartier Racing Awards are 25 years old – a tremendous landmark – and we could hardly have wished for a better season in European horseracing.
“Golden Horn carried nearly all before him and is a worthy recipient of Cartier Horse of the Year, while Solow and Muhaarar were equally dominant in mile and sprint races respectively.
“I think it would be hard to find a tougher filly anywhere in the world than Legatissimo, while the Coolmore-owned two-year-olds, Air Force Blue and Minding, were both very impressive. It is refreshing to see the Cartier Stayer Award go to a three-year-old, Simple Verse, for the first time since 1994.
“Jack Berry’s whole life has been dedicated to racing and the opening of Jack Berry House in 2015 is a lasting testament to his tireless work on behalf of injured jockeys. We are delighted to announce him as the recipient Cartier/Daily Telegraph Award of Merit in 2015.”

WHW gears up for Olympia

Leading international horse charity, World Horse Welfare, is gearing up for Olympia, The London International Horse Show, where it has been chosen as the iconic event’s charity of the year 2015.

As charity of the year, World Horse Welfare will be presenting the Santa vs Scrooge Celebrity Scurry Stakes – a festive adrenaline-fuelled driving challenge as part of Friday evening’s performance at the show, featuring two of World Horse Welfare’s amazing rehomed horses accompanied by some famous faces.

Olympia: Photo courtesy of Kit Houghton

Olympia: Photo courtesy of Kit Houghton

World Horse Welfare’s trade stand in the ever-popular shopping village will offer visitors the chance to meet some famous equestrian personalities and take a selfie or two in the charity’s winter pony-themed photo zone.

Plus, for anyone doing some last minute Christmas shopping there will be the chance to win an ultimate Christmas present, or to purchase   an array of horsey stocking fillers, including the opportunity to (almost) take a horse home for Christmas with World Horse Welfare’s Adopt a Horse Scheme.

Simon Brooks-Ward, Show Director, Olympia, The London International Horse Show said:“We are delighted to be supporting World Horse Welfare this year. The charity plays a vital role in not only safeguarding vulnerable horses, ponies and donkeys, but also in campaigning to help create lasting change. World Horse Welfare has the largest rehoming scheme of its kind in the UK and I am very much looking forward to seeing some of their success stories in Olympia’s Grand Hall this December – I’m sure it will be a spectacle to remember!”

World Horse Welfare Chief Executive, Roly Owers added:“We are deeply honoured and so grateful that World Horse Welfare has been chosen as charity of the year for Olympia, a show which has been a key highlight on the equestrian calendar for many years and continues to be a fantastic festive celebration.

“This provides us with a wonderful international platform to raise awareness of our work, a showcase to demonstrate the amazing activities our rehomed horses and ponies are capable of and an opportunity to highlight how people can get involved with us, including through our reinvigorated adoption scheme.”

The London International Horse Show Olympia runs 15th -21st December at the Olympia Exhibition Halls in Hammersmith. Olympia runs for 7 days and hosts more than 90,000 visitors over the course of the show.

To find out more about World Horse Welfare visit: www.worldhorsewelfare.org

 

 

 

Horse Trust’s rare horse-lifting boxes

The Horse Trust has acquired two rare horse–lifting boxes for its unique WW1 exhibition.

Many myths had grown up regarding the fate of the British army horses at the end of the Great War and the welfare of the horses throughout the conflict. The Horse Trust commissioned renowned military historian Dr. David Kenyon to research the role of British horses throughout the war years.

Dr. Kenyon’s fascinating study dispelled some myths about the fate of our horses after the Armistice and provided new insight into the overall effect the war had on Britain’s horse population between 1914 – 1918. The study provided the basis to create a unique exhibit opened on August 14 2014 as part of the centenary commemorations of the outbreak of war.

Since the exhibition was opened to the public the Trust has been searching far and wide for genuine artefacts of the period. It has been difficult, but persistence pays, and recently Horse Trust Chief Executive Jeannette Allen tracked down a pair of heavy horse-lifting boxes that appeared to have been used in the monumental mobilisation and de-mobilisation.

Arrival of the WWI transport boxes

Arrival of the WWI transport boxes

Thankfully the vendor was able to authenticate their provenance.  As Anthony Reeve of LASSCO (London Architectural Salvage and Supply Company) explains “the boxes had come from the Museum of London where LASSCO had helped the Museum of London clear vast stores of non-accessioned collections from the Royal Docks, London.

Amongst the anchors, gang-planks and cannon were two large crates – like heavy duty carts without wheels. These were “horse-lifting boxes”, rare survivors, originally from the London dockyards. With a door at each end, lifting points at each corner, remains of a padded interior and iron hoops over the top – to prevent a horse rearing.”

These sort of boxes offered a much kinder way of lifting horses that would otherwise be hoisted with slings when tides or unsuitable wharves made gang-planks impossible. It was, by any measure, a herculean task.

As they set sail for France in 1914 the British Expeditionary Force in France took 165,000 horses, the vast majority of them requisitioned and collected in just twelve days. It was truly a miracle of organisation and co-operation, but one of the greatest challenges of that mobilisation was the ongoing transportation of the horse to the battlefields in France.

The horse lifting boxes were fundamental to getting the horses to France through east London’s dockyards. Unlike soldiers horses don’t walk up steep gangplanks very easily, this sort of lifting box would be hoisted over the gunwales of a ship by crane and lowered into the hold where horses were stabled. Those same boxes were used in 1918 to bring over 60,000 healthy horses back home through those same docks.

The Horse Trust and LASSCO are both delighted with the acquisition. Jeanette Allen said:“There can be no more suitable home for this fascinating piece of history than the Horse Trust’s Home of Rest for Horses.

“This is the charity whose subscribers commissioned the world’s first motorised horse Ambulance and presented it to the war office for the use of sick and wounded animals at the front.  It is a wonderful addition to our WW1 exhibit and is sure to be appreciated by our many visitors.”