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Spindles Farm anniversary: Riding training for rescued horses to help them find a new home

The Horse Trust is hoping to give three rescued horses from Spindles Farm the chance of a new start in life by training them to ride.

The three horses – Walt, Dazzle and Star – were rescued from Spindles Farm in January 2008. All three were only around a year old when they were rescued and were severely underweight and suffering from a salmonella infection. Staff at The Horse Trust nurtured these, and the other horses, ponies and donkeys they took in from Spindles Farm, back to health, and continued to look after them during the court case.

When the owners of Spindles Farm lost their court appeal in May 2010, staff at the charity were keen to rehome the three horses, so they could lead an active life being ridden, rather than spending the remainder of their life in retirement at the sanctuary.

Over the subsequent year, staff were able to find new homes for each of the horses, but unfortunately these homes haven’t worked out and the charity is now looking after the horses again.

“We’re very sad that their homes haven’t worked out as we were really excited about them having a new start in life,” saidShirley Abbott, Stable Manager at The Horse Trust. “Dazzle’s home not working out was just bad luck, but for Walt and Star it’s definitely a legacy of their experience at Spindles Farm. We weren’t allowed to castrate them until the court case finished, which has affected their temperament and was the main reason for their home not working out.”

Although Dazzle was a gelding when he arrived at The Horse Trust from Spindles Farm, Walt and Star were both stallions. Shortly after the court case ended in May 2010, both horses were castrated. However, this late castration has led to them having a stronger personality and has meant that they cannot be kept in a field with mares.

Staff at the charity are now worried that in the current economic climate, they will struggle to find a new home for the three horses, particularly given the fact that all three horses haven’t been trained to ride (known as “backing”) and due to Walt and Star’s temperament issues.

“People are often reluctant to take on a horse that hasn’t been backed, particularly if its older,” said Shirley. “Backing a horse is both time consuming and financially draining. We hope that if we back all three horses, it will increase our chances of finding them a loving home.”

The charity has now employed Jane Calvert, an experienced horse trainer, to back these and other young rescue horses it is hoping to rehome. Jane started working with the three horses last week, and is hoping that within a few months Walt, Dazzle and Star will be fully backed and ready to go to new homes.

“As the horses are already used to being handled by staff at The Horse Trust, it hopefully won’t take too long to back them,” said Jane. “I’m hoping to start riding them soon, and then getting them used to voice commands, teaching them to walk, trot and canter, and getting them used to hacking out and traffic.”

Walt has shown the most promise so far, but Jane thinks Star may take longer to back. “Walt has been an absolute superstar already – he’s definitely the teacher’s pet. I’m hoping to get on him within a few days,” said Jane. “Things may take a bit longer with Star as he’s a bit flighty.”

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