The headquarters of a Norfolk horse sanctuary opened its doors to the public at the weekend to give visitors a chance to have a look around.

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Redwings holds open weekends twice a year offering guided tours of the Hapton HQ, off Holly Lane, where 300 horses, ponies, donkeys and mules, reside, many receiving treatment for injuries and disease at the site’s horse hospital.

Over 800 visitors, many of them families with young children, dropped in to take a tour either on foot or by minibus to see the facilities, which includes an operating theatre, rehoming centre and administrative offices and meet some of the horses.

Ellie Paravani, an education officer at the centre, said the summer rain had held off over the Saturday and Sunday, which had given a boost to visitor numbers.

She said all the animals had been rescued after being abandoned by owners who either did not know how to look after them or could not afford to.

The horses were receiving treatment for a range of health problems including arthritis and eye cancer.

In total, the Redwings charity, which has centres across Norfolk and in Essex and Warwickshire, cares for 1,200 animals, of which approximately 70 are rehomed each year though a number are permanently resident at the Hapton HQ.

Ellie said: “It has been really good considering there are a lot of things going on at the moment. We have had regular visitors, but also some visiting for the first time. We have had a lot of really nice comments from people.”

Emily Green, seven, Abbey Yaxley, seven and Jasmine Yaxley, nine, from Attleborough and Hingham, were visiting with their aunties Sharon Broadhead and Angie Rogerson.

They spent over three hours at the site, visiting the operating theatre and seeing the horses. Jasmine said: “We really enjoyed hearing the vet talk and watching the horses.”

Neil Ranger, from Poringland, was visiting with his children Amelia and Dominic, both seven and had been at the centre for three-and-a-half hours.

He said: “Amelia particularly loves horses, which was one of the reasons we came up here and it has been interesting to be able to have a look around the centre.”

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