Please, can you help me?
I am sure that, like me, you have serious concerns about the horse welfare crisis. The situation is dire and horses are dying daily in the most awful conditions. Over the past few weeks, we have witnessed:
- The skeletons of horses just left to rot in fields after they have died
- Horses being dumped dead, alive or dying
- Horses in awful conditions with every bone in their body on show – it is beyond me that they are still standing
There are worse stories but I don’t want to distress you.
Every time I see one stood painfully thin, hungry and thirsty and look into its sad and pleading eyes it tears me apart. It tears me apart because these animals are so innocent and so noble they don’t deserve to live or indeed die like this. The history of this Country was borne on the backs of these proud, noble, sensitive animals and yet this is how we now choose to repay that debt! Some of these horses stand tethered in the same place for days, weeks and months on end, never being given food, water or care. Sometimes owners come to see them just once a week, sometimes less often.
Over the last month I have spent some time in Southampton working with local people regarding a group of approximately 50 horses. One lovely young piebald stallion broke my heart – when we arrived with water he had learnt to bow! This poor skinny horse was so in need of water that he had learnt to beg for a drink. Water should be a basic requirement – not something that an innocent animal should have to beg for. One local lady carried water to him and he drank 15 litres!
Further up was an old mare – 23yrs old and her entire life had been spent on a tethering chain. She had a thin rug on and when I put my hand under it she was freezing – but day in, day out she stood tethered by her neck to a piece of ground that has no grass in the winter and in the summer is full of ragwort, which is poisonous to horses and causes a very painful and distressing death – which can include blindness and mental disorientation before death. This mare’s eyes were empty. She expected nothing because she knows she will get nothing. She has never played with another horse or run about in a field. She has all but given up. If death was to come maybe that would be a happy release for her.
There were a few horses that were loose on the fields and if any tethered horse was lucky to be given some bread or peelings from a kindly dog walker then these loose ponies would steal it as their need to survive is instinctive.
All over the Country these scenes are replicated – Dartford, Essex, Leicester, Southampton, York – everywhere – I hate to think how many horses are suffering and dying daily. We cant help them all but we can certainly try to help those we know about, but with the financial issues that the Sanctuary is facing at the moment we are so limited to what we can do. Last year we were able to take hay out to horses and keep them alive until the weather improved. This year we can not afford to.
Just a few weeks ago we were amazed to find a little foal dumped at our gates. We have named him Dante. He has a great thick woolly coat but this hides what’s underneath. This innocent little creature is skin and bone – he had clearly recently lost his mum and he didn’t even know what hay and food was. He stood terrified, depressed and looked so totally lost. He had just been left to die!
Because of the desperate financial situation we were hoping not to add to our numbers this winter but we could not turn this little fella away and more to the point, I know that you, our supporters, would want us to step in and help him. He was so terrified, he didn’t know what we were going to do to him but had clearly been badly treated prior to arriving.
We didn’t know if he would survive, but a stable was set up for him with a heat lamp to give him heat, a nice deep bed, special soft food, fresh water and hay. Initially he slept on the concrete floor as he did not know what the bed was and it took him a few days to learn what hay was and about a week to learn to eat food.
He now gets so excited when his food comes in to him that his legs shake (we have named this The Dante Quiver!!). He has a big belly but this is full of worms and although he has been treated he still carries a large burden. Many horses die this time of year when, if they have a large infestation it can cause severe colic and a very quick but very painful death.
The next few months are critical for this little guy – he is such a little fighter and we have all grown so attached to him in such a short time. We would all be devastated if we lost him after all the work we have all put into him and having got to know him. We are starting to see his character shine through and he is the sweetest of little creatures partly because he is so lost and alone from losing his mum and being treated abysmally before he was dumped with us that he just wants our company and to feel loved and secure.
Look at Dante prancing in March and meeting new friends, what a difference, compared to his arrival in January when he looked very forlorn!
The suffering is dire and we can help them and we want to help them but with our finances being so tight we are unable to step in and help many of these animals who will continue to suffer and even die. To see them and look them in the eyes and have to walk away as we cant afford to help them is just the most awful feeling – it rips my heart apart. Please help me to help these horses who suffer in silence. Please can you help by making a donation to help us step in and help these beautiful animals? I look forward to hearing from you and hope that you will feel you are able to help.
Thank you, Sue x
Sue Burton – Founder of Remus Horse Sanctuary