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Winter Welfare Crisis

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As you know, this winter is bringing extra challenges for all of us and sadly, we are receiving more and more calls from people asking us to take in horses they can’t afford to keep, or to rescue discarded and abandoned horses, who have been left to suffer due to absolutely no fault of their own.

The reality is, The Horse Trust can only save as many of these innocent animals as funds allow. Rising costs for hay, power, seed, and of course veterinary medicine are putting urgent pressure on our resources. It breaks my heart to think we may be forced to turn some rescue cases away this winter and I fear many horses will not be given a fighting chance, or a safe and loving home.

The heart wrenching choice to turn any horse in need of urgent veterinary care away is an unthinkable decision to have to make. That is why I am asking you, even at this difficult time, to please rally together with us to ensure this doesn’t have to happen.

You may be aware we recently rescued one of these poor ponies who requires ongoing intensive care. This exhausted young horse arrived to us at a pivotal moment in time, just as HM The Queen’s coffin was in procession from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Hall. I feel in my heart fate brought him to us at this moment, as a symbol of hope for those horses without a voice. We have named him Balmoral and as you can see from his picture, this beautiful little boy is just a baby, only 12-18 months old. Sadly, this poor little horse has had a miserable first start in life.

Bought “sight unseen” which always poses a great risk, Balmoral was passed from pillar to post from the very beginning of his life. When his inexperienced new owner realised he hadn’t received the 17.2hh Hunter advertised, but a skinny neglected youngster with no passport and no identity, he was dumped with other horses who sadly bullied him, causing significant injuries. You can imagine how scary this experience would be for such a young pony who was looking for the comfort of a friend. Out of desperation he somehow mustered the little energy he had and escaped from the other horses where he was found roaming the streets.

Balmoral arrived at The Horse Trust in a desperate state, very underweight, covered in wounds and really frightened. His skin was crawling with lice, which our team quickly set out to treat. Scars still cover his body, a sad reminder of his stressful beginning. His baby teeth are very worn down, which is unusual for a young horse, but we suspect in this case he was gnawing on wood due to stress or lack of mental stimulation. This poor baby boy was covered in ulcerated sarcoids (a viral based skin cancer) which had clearly become very painful for him. Much of Balmoral’s trauma goes beyond the physical, his biggest scars run deeper. They are the ones you cannot see from the outside, the ones that have come from having never been wanted or loved. 

Even with all he has endured so far, Balmoral has a powerful sense of will and magically continues to keep fighting to defy his challenges, and so, we continue to fight with him. Since he has arrived, his biggest physical hurdle has been to remove his infected sarcoids. As Balmoral is still nervous about being handled and travelling, the decision was made to provide surgical laser treatment here at home where he feels safe. This was a big undertaking Dr Burford of Nottingham University and our own vet Nicky, but they were ably supported by our fantastic team and some wonderful vet students so I know he could not be in safer hands. Thankfully, we have been able to successfully remove twenty of Balmoral’s infected sarcoids to help relieve discomfort. We continue to monitor his progress but know he will need at the very least one or two more treatment sessions soon.

Despite this, the care team is so pleased his weight is starting to settle after it had initially dropped from stress. Our behaviourist team are taking great care to ensure they move at his pace and slowly help this sweet baby feel love and trust. I know with your help his journey can be brighter.

Balmoral’s story is not unique and is happening every day to horses all over the country. Regardless of the challenges, I know, like you, that his life has value and that he and horses like him deserve their chance. With your help, we can raise the urgent funds needed to take in more horses like Balmoral this winter.

Any gift, big or small, will aide us in recovering the facilities our horses so desperately need.

Thank you for your continued kindness, generosity and support.

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