Horse sanctuary celebrates record-breaking year for rehoming

Mocha the horse with his new Redwings guardian Debbie.

Mocha the horse with his new Redwings guardian Debbie. - Credit: Redwings Horse Sanctuary

A Norfolk horse sanctuary is celebrating a record-breaking year for rehoming, despite battling coronavirus. 

Redwings Horse Sanctuary has rehomed a record number of rescued horses even though its Guardianship scheme has been suspended for two months due to lockdown restrictions. 

It has seen a 75pc increase in the number of horses finding loving new homes outside of the sanctuary compared to 2019.

Cookie the horse with Redwings guardian Angela.

Cookie the horse with Redwings guardian Angela. - Credit: Redwings Horse Sanctuary

As face-to-face meetings were unable to go ahead during lockdown, Hapton-based Redwings turned to technology to match rescued ponies with potential guardians, using virtual home checks and introductions made via video.  

This was also helped by the expansion of the scheme, which saw the construction of new rehoming centres at its Caldecott visitor centre in Norfolk and Oxhill visitor centre in Warwickshire last year.  

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Rachel Angell, Redwings’ head of Norfolk equine operations, who heads up the charity’s rehoming scheme, said: “Lockdown came just as we were about to enter our busiest season for rehoming enquiries and our new rehoming centres were getting started on training their first intake of ponies, so it was a really disappointing to have to press pause on our scheme at that time.  

“While unfortunately there are still some restrictions around rehoming our ridden horses, thanks to the adaptions we made to our application process, we have been able to safely rehome our unbacked project ponies and non-ridden companions since lockdown.  

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“Even with the increased demand, we were careful to ensure our priority remained finding responsible guardians who could offer long-term homes and it’s been a joy to see such a record number of our horses successfully finding new families this year." 

Cookie the horse when she rescued back in 2016 and taken to Redwings Horse Sanctuary.

Cookie the horse when she rescued back in 2016 and taken to Redwings Horse Sanctuary. - Credit: Redwings Horse Sanctuary

One of the first ponies to complete his training and be rehomed through the charity’s new virtual process was Redwing’s Mocha who is now living in Norfolk with his guardian Debbie. 

Mocha, who arrived at his new home in September, was one of 23 horses rescued in 2011 from a site in Northern Ireland.  

They were found living in "appalling" conditions, left without food, water or clean bedding, and many of them were suffering with worm infestations, overgrown hooves and infectious diseases.

Redwings Mocha shortly after rescue

Mocha the horse shortly after he was rescued in 2011 and taken to Redwings Horse Sanctuary.  - Credit: Redwings Horse Sanctuary

Debbie said: “I am so proud of him. He has learnt so much in such a short space of time. His trainer said he was by far the best horse she had ever backed which I’m sure is down to the groundwork done at Redwings."

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