Irresponsible breeding is being tackled by WHW ( charity World Horse Welfare), which says this has led to large numbers of horses being abandonded and left to fend for themselves, often with vulnerable mares with foals at foot.
Now, as part of its ‘invisible horse’ initiative, charity World Horse Welfare is highlighting the far-reaching implications of irresponsible breeding of the mares, foals and impact it has on the charity’s resources.
World Horse Welfare is tackling the problem countrywide, but many of the 300-plus horses and ponies who come into World Horse Welfare’s care each year have a lengthy period of rehabilitation ahead of them before they are ready to be rehomed. And for the mares arriving in foal this time period is significantly extended.
Rehabilitation of an average horse arriving in a World Horse Welfare Rescue and Rehoming Centre costs around £5,000 but when that horse is either carrying a foal or has recently given birth to one this cost can be significantly higher.
Many of the mares which come into World Horse Welfare’s Rescue and Rehoming Centres are underweight and struggling to survive even without the huge burden of carrying or feeding a foal. Often the energy and nutrition they have put into caring for their foal leaves the mares with nothing for themselves and sadly in some of the worst cases the mare simply does not make it.
Buzz and Bee came into World Horse Welfare’s Glenda Spooner Farm in early June 2015 after Field Officer, Phil Jones was alerted to a mare and foal on a common in South Wales who were reportedly in a very poor state. Phil visited the same day as a matter of urgency and found Buzz very underweight and struggling to feed her foal Bee, who was less than two months old. The attending vet stated that neither pony could be left on the common and they were taken straight to the veterinary clinic for emergency treatment before moving to Glenda Spooner Farm when they were strong enough.
Despite WHW investigations and a call for Buzz and Bee’s owner to come forward, typically no one was found. Thankfully, Buzz and Bee were found in the nick of time and as a result of the dedicated care they received from the WHW team they both made a full recovery.
Claire Phillips is Centre Manager at World Horse Welfare’s Glenda Spooner Farm Rescue and Rehoming Centre. She said: “Whilst both Buzz and Bee are now healthy and have put on weight, the journey to rehabilitate Buzz ready for rehoming is a much longer one than a lot of the horses and ponies World Horse Welfare takes into our centres.
“Buzz is only four years old herself and has already had a huge strain on her body through being in foal and giving birth to a healthy foal despite her own terrible condition. A lack of adequate nutrition during her pregnancy and early stages of motherhood further added to this strain. The knock-on effect means she will spend a lot more time with us here at World Horse Welfare so she can be fully rehabilitated before beginning ridden or driven work with a view to rehoming in the future.”
Bee is just one of the youngsters featured in World Horse Welfare’s latest fundraising appeal which also includes Huckleberry – the star of a recent BBC Countryfile programme – and Dash, the lovable young foal found abandoned and emaciated towards the end of summer 2015.
World Horse Welfare has named 2016 the year to highlight the world’s invisible horses which 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.
You can help by reporting any sighting of abandoned horses, especially mares with vulnerable you foals, to www.worldhorsewelfare.org
The charity will be focussing on a number of key themes as the year progresses including; foals and youngsters, rescue and rehoming, working horses around the world and campaigning to improve laws to protect horses.