In January 2008 RSPCA inspectors and police officers attended Spindles Farm in Amersham and found what has been described as one of the worst cases of animal cruelty the UK has ever seen.
Over 100 horses, ponies and donkeys were found in the most horrific conditions; 34 were already dead. These poor creatures were found barely alive, crammed in filthy pens and standing on the dead bodies of their companions. A large scale rescue operation was mounted by animal welfare charities from across the country. It took 8 days to complete due to the number of animals and their appalling condition. 115 animals were rescued and taken to animal welfare charities to recover.
As the closest welfare charity, we gave sanctuary to 14 of the sickest animals. It cost us over £150,000 to nurse them back to health. All of the horses required monitoring round-the-clock as they were starving, emaciated, depressed, and suffering from a variety of serious health problems. The sickest animals were even unable to stand without help. Sadly, some of the ponies had to be put to sleep later on due to conditions linked to their poor start in life.
However, this sad story had some happy endings and thanks to the generous support of the public and the dedication and commitment of The Trust’s staff, the remaining horses, ponies and donkeys now have a secure, healthy and happy future.
When Disney he was rescued from Spindles Farm he was very ill and dangerously thin. After two years of specialist treatment and care from the staff at The Horse Trust, Disney had more than doubled in weight and made a full and fantastic recovery. He has now been happily re-homed with the Horse Rangers Association where he helps to transform the lives of disadvantaged young people by helping them learn how to ride and care for horses.
Star was only 6 months old when he arrived and was the youngest pony rescued from Spindle’s Farm. Tiny Star was massively underweight, weighing only 197kg with a body condition score of 1. Star was so weak he could not even make it up the one inch step into his stable unaided. Thanks to veterinary treatment and round-the-clock care Star had put on 54kg within four months of arriving at The Horse Trust. Now a healthy, happy and cheeky pony Star is being trained to ride and drive and it is hoped that he will go on to be used in displays at The Horse Trust; as a result he won’t be re-homed. Our trainer Jane started Star’s driving training by getting him accustomed to wearing the driving harness. She then worked him from the ground wearing the harness to get him used to the aids and commands of driving, and to having someone behind him. After spending 8 weeks on an intensive training course with expert driver Robert Sampson, Star’s driving is progressing so well he is now pulling a small trap.