Shire foal born after 19 horses are rescued
- Credit: Redwings Horse Sanctuary
A Shire horse foal has been taking her first tentative steps at Redwings Horse Sanctuary one year after her mother was one of 19 horses rescued by the Norfolk welfare charity.
Papillon, now five months old, was born to mother Tortoiseshell at the charity's Norfolk headquarters near Hapton, her arrival part of a challenging 12 months for Redwings' vet and equine care teams as they've fought to bring the rescued horses back to health following their rescue last November.
Papillon's start to life was fraught with difficulty; she was born with severely weak tendons in her legs which meant she initially struggled to stand, although happily her legs have strengthened and she now loves to trot around the paddock she shares with her mother.
Tortoiseshell was part of a group of Shire horses discovered grazing without permission of the landowner on a site in Bewdley, near Kidderminster in Worcestershire.
When no owner came forward, ownership of the herd passed into the hands of the landowner, who asked Redwings for help.
With winter approaching, Redwings joined forces with the Blue Cross, Bransby Horses, HorseWorld, World Horse Welfare and the RSPCA to round-up the herd and find them new homes.
Redwings took in six mares and named them after butterflies – Tortoiseshell, Peacock, Cleopatra, Holly Blue, Painted Lady and Swallowtail.
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Blood tests and subsequent biopsies subsequently revealed that the group were suffering from significant and potentially life-threatening liver damage.
Sadly Cleopatra died during the summer due to a severe and sudden bout of colic, and a second foal, named Empress, had to be put to sleep due to complications arising from a blood infection.
Lynn Cutress, Redwings' chief executive, said: 'With little provision for their care, it's safe to say that if we had not intervened by rounding-up this large group of Shires last November, their welfare would have been at dire risk – proven by the subsequent discovery of their liver problems.
'Handling such a number of heavy horses is a real challenge, but thanks to the efforts of our teams, these special Shires are now receiving all the care they need and they've already become beloved members of the Redwings family.
'We were truly heartbroken to lose Cleopatra and then little Empress, however seeing Papillon go from strength to strength has lifted our spirits'
• Redwings funded entirely by donations from the public. You can help support the care of Papillon and the Shire herd, on 01508 481000 or at redwings.org.uk/donating