How a Norfolk charity has turned round the lives of fearful rescued horses

Behaviour specialists at Redwings Horse Sanctuary has offered a home to 32 horses from a group of mo

Behaviour specialists at Redwings Horse Sanctuary has offered a home to 32 horses from a group of more than 130, who were removed in a multi-agency operation over several weeks from a site near the M25. Picture: Redwings - Credit: Archant

Over 30 unhandled rescue horses have had their lives turned around thanks to a Norfolk charity.

Behaviour specialists at Redwings Horse Sanctuary has offered a home to 32 horses from a group of mo

Behaviour specialists at Redwings Horse Sanctuary has offered a home to 32 horses from a group of more than 130, who were removed in a multi-agency operation over several weeks from a site near the M25. Picture: Redwings - Credit: Archant

Behaviour specialists at Redwings Horse Sanctuary have offered a home to 32 horses from a group of more than 130, who were removed in a multi-agency operation over several weeks from a site near the M25.

The charity has taken in almost 180 horses and donkeys in 2020 - one of its highest totals in recent years - despite challenges and additional pressures on resources as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The group’s owners were no longer able to cope with the horses care and signed over the ownership of them to a number of welfare charities.

Many of the horses taken into Redwings’ care were underweight and required help for worms and lameness. However, the biggest challenge was their behaviour – many had seemingly never been handled by humans before.

Behaviour specialists at Redwings Horse Sanctuary has offered a home to 32 horses from a group of mo

Behaviour specialists at Redwings Horse Sanctuary has offered a home to 32 horses from a group of more than 130, who were removed in a multi-agency operation over several weeks from a site near the M25. Picture: Redwings - Credit: Archant


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After a stay at Redwings’ specialist quarantine facility in Norfolk where they received veterinary attention, they were transported to the charity’s nearby behaviour centre.

Sarah Hallsworth, Redwings’ equine behaviour manager, said: “All of them were very fearful when they first arrived and wouldn’t tolerate human touch.

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“However, to provide even just basic care involves a number of interactions with a horse throughout a year, so it was really important that we worked on building their trust so they could feel comfortable in their new surroundings and we could care for them safely.”

Through clicker training, positive reinforcement and a lot of patience, many of the horses are now happy to be approached.

Behaviour specialists at Redwings Horse Sanctuary has offered a home to 32 horses from a group of mo

Behaviour specialists at Redwings Horse Sanctuary has offered a home to 32 horses from a group of more than 130, who were removed in a multi-agency operation over several weeks from a site near the M25. Picture: Redwings - Credit: Archant

It is hoped that some may end up becoming suitable candidates for Redwings’ rehoming programme in the future.

Miss Hallsworth said: “There are some, like Silver, who were quite terrified to begin with but have transformed immeasurably.

“Since starting her training, Silver now really enjoys human attention, which is exactly what we want for all of them.

“While she will remain a permanent resident at the Sanctuary, it’s very rewarding to know that she will spend the rest of her life free of fear and enjoy all the fuss and love we desperately want to give her and her friends.”

Behaviour specialists at Redwings Horse Sanctuary has offered a home to 32 horses from a group of mo

Behaviour specialists at Redwings Horse Sanctuary has offered a home to 32 horses from a group of more than 130, who were removed in a multi-agency operation over several weeks from a site near the M25. Picture: Redwings - Credit: Archant

To support the ongoing care of horses at the sanctuary, visit www.redwings.org.uk/donate

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