Born To Die – We Need Your Help

As you’ll know, Remus Horse Sanctuary provides rehabilitation and lifetime care for over 200 horses, ponies, donkeys, sheep, goats and cats near Ingatestone in Essex, and we are celebrating our 40th anniversary in 2023.

Over the past 40 years, we have rescued and rehabilitated hundreds of emaciated, terrified, beaten, and, in two cases, deliberately blinded animals – these two were both mares in foal.

The animals in our care are now able to live and enjoy a normal happy life free from suffering, hunger and fear.

So what do we need your help with? Well you may have seen details of our #BornToDie campaign which we launched earlier this year. Although we are calling on the government for change, you too can help support us in the following simple ways:

  1. Contact your MP to press for change. We urge you to write your own message, as this will see the best response. However, you can copy the information from our web page if that’s helpful. View our ‘BornToDie’ campaign page. Please remember, always be respectful and polite in your emails. The link to find your local MP is just pop in your county or postcode, or the name of your MP if you know it. This will provide you with both an email and a postal address.
  2. Make a donation today. Help us fund our work both at the Sanctuary and for this campaign. You can donate online or of course telephone the office to make a donation over the telephone. And, of course, we accept cheques too!
  3. Improve your CSR. Please get in touch if you are able to support us as a corporate partner and improve your corporate social responsibility (CSR).
  4. Get involved. Please take part in our 40th Anniversary Challenge. We have estimated that if only 1000 people raised only £40 each, you could fundraise a massive £40,000 for us!
  5. Share our news. Share the details of our campaign on social media, and tag us in your posts using the hashtag #BornToDie

We provide a safe environment for those animals that have been victims of physical and mental abuse, whether because of ignorance or malicious intent.

Sue Burton co-founded the Sanctuary in 1983 following the plight of the horses on Rainham Marshes in Rainham, Essex, where over 100 horses were left on the bleak marshland. As the water inlets flooded, they became cut off resulting in 13 horses dying in the most awful conditions.

You might also like to visit our Christmas Shop.

#BornToDie Campaign Calls for Greater Enforcement of Animal Welfare Act

Sue Burton, founder of Remus Horse Sanctuary, has launched her #BornToDie campaign whilst commemorating the 40th Anniversary of the charity earlier this summer. Ms Burton is calling for greater enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act in relation to equine welfare – saving horses, ponies, donkeys and mules.

Across the UK horses are being let down by those who fail to give the care that horses, ponies and other equines should be able to rely on as a very basic right. Mares are still being forced to breed every year, many on a tethering chain with their foals being born to a life they wouldn’t choose, and as Remus sees so often literally being Born to Die. 

Ms Burton said, “We do have a whole raft of laws, but the problem lies with the enforcement. If the laws were enforced, then we would not have the ongoing welfare issues that we see so regularly.”

In December 2020, the Charity Times reported: “There are more than 7,000 horses currently known to animal welfare charities at risk of neglect or being abandoned. Currently charities take on more than 2,000 horse welfare cases a year.” 

The police – who must be relied upon to enter property or confiscate animals, will often not investigate, telling Ms Burton that they “signpost the public to the RSPCA” – who have no statutory powers, and are already overstretched.

At the start of this year, Ms Burton asked two police forces either side of the Dartford Tunnel for data on equine neglect crimes; one said they didn’t collect that information and advised the public are asked to contact the RSPCA if they are aware of crimes against animals, and the other did not respond.

Improving the Effectiveness of Animal Welfare Enforcement by APGAW (All Party Parliamentary Group for Animal Welfare) confirmed that there is a huge level of inconsistency with some forces seeing the value of having officers dealing with animal welfare and recognising it can be connected to other types of crime and others not seeing any value. Furthermore, equines fall in between both companion and livestock legislation.   

Local authorities can choose to appoint inspectors, but don’t have to – again many signposting to charities, including every local authority website that Ms Burton and her team researched in Essex. Different levels of authority have different responsibilities. For example, where a borough council is accountable for fly-grazing, a county council is responsible for the welfare of horses being transported. 

At the 40th Anniversary luncheon held at Ingatestone Hall in Essex, attended by the charity’s Patrons, dignitaries and trustees, Ms Burton shared, “I have witnessed so many awful sights that I can never unsee. I have cried a lake of tears. I never fail to be stunned at how much suffering these stoic animals take, at how awful mankind can be to such noble innocent animals and how so many in authority ignore their plight due to deficiencies in our legal system.

“I am so proud of what Remus has achieved over the past 40 years and the animals who have come through our gates that we have been able to turn round – from emaciated, terrified, beaten, and in two cases deliberately blinded wrecks, to animals now able to live and enjoy a normal happy life free from suffering, hunger and fear. 

“But what good is a law that isn’t enforced? Deficiencies in our legal system should not be the reason thousands of these noble innocent animals suffer each and every year.”

Ms Burton is calling for the following:

  1. a named post within every County Council and unitary Authority, responsible for enforcement action across the full range of equine cruelty, working with lower tier authorities, the police and charities.
  2. a national education programme, promoted across communities who are traditionally less likely to understand the importance of equine care, cascaded to support workers facilitating conversations with such communities.
  3. publication by each local authority of information relating to equine welfare cases, including the number of reports, attendances, investigations and prosecutions, and details of whether referrals have come through charities or members of the public.

Attendees at the luncheon included HRH The Duchess of Edinburgh GCVO, Royal Patron to the charity since 2013, two more of the charity’s patrons: Lord Petre and his son The Hon. Dominic Petre, and Andrew Rosindell MP for Romford; Mr Vincent Thompson, His Majesty’s Deputy Lieutenant; Mr Charles Bishop, High Sheriff of Essex; Councillor Jill Reeves, Chair of Essex County Council; Councillor Linda Mascot, Mayor of Chelmsford City Council; Mr Nick Eveleigh, the Chief Executive of Chelmsford City Council, and Mr Andy Mariner, Assistant Chief Constable of Essex Police. Along with the charity’s trustees, supporters, suppliers and vets. 

Of the new #BornToDie campaign, Conservative MP for Romford Mr Andrew Rosindell commented: “The government needs to step up. I’m very committed as a former shadow minister for animal welfare to continue to raise these issues in parliament and to lobby the government to change the culture of animal welfare in this country and I’m committed to working with Remus to ensure that happens.”

Ms Burton concluded, “The Animal Welfare Act should ensure that all equines, and other kept animals, are protected.

“But the protection of these beautiful animals, who have stood with humans for centuries – from farming to war, from friendship to servitude – falls to charities often stretched for resources. Too often, members of the public have no information on how to act. 

“Please, support our #BornToDie campaign for greater enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act in relation to equine welfare.” 

For further information, visit or contact Sue Burton on tel: 01277 356191 if you can help promote or add value to the campaign.

Remus will be hosting its final Open Day of the season on Sunday 1 October, in celebration of World Animal Day, for those wishing to visit the Sanctuary.

Luncheon images by Christopher Rushton.

Keeping Veteran Horses Active

We have some wonderful ‘golden oldies’ at Remus Horse Sanctuary, and while the horses that end up with us or that we rescue may not have been well looked after by previous owners, there’s no reason why veterans can’t live active lives in their twilight years.

Even in their twenties, horses can still work; with some TLC, patience and adjustments, they can even continue to compete if you want to. Of course, our rescue animals here at the Sanctuary have a life built around them giving them all they need and asking nothing of them.

The key is to take things slowly and be aware that attaining and keeping a level of fitness may take some time. Building up the amount of work – and this may mean several weeks of walking exercise before moving on to anything else – will reduce the likelihood of injury.

Keep exercise sessions regular and short, and make sure you allow plenty of warming up and cooling down time too.

Of course, there will be a time when they can’t perform at your required level – it’s important to recognise this and make adjustment to avoid putting them at any risk. Look out for stiffness, lameness and loss of condition as key signs. There’s plenty more advice in this excellent article at

As you will know, it’s our 40th Anniversary this year and we are campaigning to stop any equine (so horses, donkeys and mules) being born to die. Find out more about our #BornToDie campaign on our website and please fundraise for our 40th Anniversary Challenge too!

The True Cost of Horse Ownership

Keeping a horse is not a cheap hobby – and with the cost of living crisis, the expense of horse ownership has never been more keenly discussed.

At Remus we sadly often see the results when owners cannot afford to keep horses properly – whether they come to us because corners have been cut in their health and welfare, or whether owners are looking to rehome because they can no longer afford to keep their horses amid rising bills or a change in personal circumstances.

That’s why we make it part of our mission to educate would-be owners on the true costs of the hobby. Along with the actual purchase cost of your animal, there are insurance premiums to be paid, vets bills, feed, hay and livery if you don’t have your own place to keep your horse. That’s before you add in the cost of tack and other kit, transport and lessons.

The excellent Horse and Hound feature at lists some ways to help keep costs down, including sharing costs with other owners, selling unwanted tack, taking on jobs at the livery yard, and sharing rarely needed kit and transport costs.

It’s important to note that none of these ideas sacrifice the quality of care and welfare for your animal – a concern that should always be uppermost in owners’ minds.

If you are paying for livery, although cost will be a major consideration, you should also ensure that corners are not being cut to get that good deal. Find out more about the true cost of livery at

This year Remus is celebrating its 40th anniversary. If you’ve not yet done so, please take a look at our 40th Anniversary Challenge and share with your friends and family to help us achieve our mission.

HRH The Duchess of Edinburgh Visits Horse Sanctuary to Commemorate 40th Anniversary

On Tuesday 27 June 2023, HRH The Duchess of Edinburgh visited Remus Horse Sanctuary to commemorate its 40th anniversary.

The Duchess, who has been a patron of the charity since 2013, toured the Sanctuary and unveiled a commemorative plaque with founder, Sue Burton. The Duchess spoke to many members of the Remus team and volunteers, thanking them for their hard work and support.

During the visit to the Sanctuary, The Duchess was joined by Mr Vincent Thompson, His Majesty’s Deputy Lieutenant; Mr Charles Bishop, High Sheriff of Essex; Councillor Jill Reeves, Chair of Essex County Council; Councillor Linda Mascot, Mayor of Chelmsford City Council; Mr Nick Eveleigh, the Chief Executive of Chelmsford City Council, and Mr Andy Mariner, Assistant Chief Constable of Essex Police, before enjoying an anniversary lunch at the nearby and historic Ingatestone Hall with two more of the charity’s patrons: Lord Petre and his son The Hon. Dominic Petre, and Andrew Rosindell MP for Romford. Also in attendance at the lunch were many of Remus’ trustees, supporters, suppliers and vets.

Mrs Doreen Lowman, 95, a local fundraiser and long-term supporter of the Sanctuary presented The Duchess with a small posy of flowers. This is the Duchess’ first visit to the Sanctuary since her change in title earlier this year.

Founder, Sue Burton, thanked the Duchess for her time, saying: “I am so very proud to still be in the driving seat of Remus after 40 years. 40 years of helping animals but particularly equines.

“I am proud of what Remus has achieved in that time and the animals who have come through our gates that we have been able to turn round, from emaciated, terrified, beaten, and in two cases deliberately blinded wrecks, to animals now able to live and enjoy a normal happy life free from suffering, hunger and fear. To my mind these things should be a very basic right, not a privilege.

“I am proud to have Her Royal Highness here supporting our work. It’s a massive achievement and we, I, am so grateful that you could take the time from your busy schedule to be with us today Ma’am. Thank you so much.“

For further information on the welfare work of Remus Horse Sanctuary, visit or contact Sue Burton on tel: 01277 356191.

Images (credit Christopher Rushton):

  1. Remus Founder Sue Burton and HRH The Duchess of Edinburgh with commemorative plaque
  2. HRH The Duchess of Edinburgh meets rescue Dolly, our eldest horse, 39yrs
  3. HRH The Duchess of Edinburgh meets rescue cat Smudge

The Rescue of Benjamin and his Friends

Sue Burton and her team have rescued thousands of animals over the past 40 years. Here she recalls the 40th animal that the charity rescued…

“I recall getting a phone call about some horses in Essex one snowy winter’s evening. We stumbled over fields that were 3 to 4 ft deep in snow. I gave up trying to count how many times I fell over in the pitch dark!”

When Sue and her colleagues entered the barn they stopped dead in their tracks – an animal Belsen was presented before them. The poor, poor ponies were emaciated, with large bald areas due to lice infestation. The sight of such vulnerable animals which were obviously being so cruelly and horrifically treated, was beyond comprehension. Sue said they couldn’t believe what they were seeing! The animals had no food, no water and no bedding. Their urine was frozen to the ground, and they stood in piles of dung. Every single one of their ‘five freedoms’ had been taken away from these dear creatures. It is a sight that Sue will never forget.

“The youngsters had never been let out of the barn and didn’t seem to know how to walk.”

When the horses could be taken out the next day, the youngsters’ legs had to be moved for them – literally – they didn’t appear to be able to walk. Their joints were stiff and frozen with cold and inactivity.

The bigger one, we called him Benjamin, had a wooden stake rammed through his stifle. We have every reason to believe that this was done to him on purpose, and the vicious injury continued to cause him problems throughout the rest of his life. The stifle is the largest joint in the horse’s body and the site where the femur meets the tibia in the hind end. You can see the ‘before’ photo of Benjamin, a shadow of the horse he was meant to be. Sue says that seeing the second photo of the horse that Benjamin became is still so emotional.

“When we were trying to get Benjamin out of the barn the owner kept slamming the door against his broken body.”

Sue and her team took five horses out that day with the owner constantly threatening everyone with a kitchen knife.

As well as Benjamin, they were Dolly, Velvet, Toby, and Charlie. All of them were aged from 6 months to just 3 years old. Getting them well became all-consuming and the team worked so hard to give them the best they could, to allow them to go on to lead healthy lives and to forget about all they had experienced at such a young age.

Dolly had a paralysed soft palate and went on to live a life where everything she ate had to be managed, just to prevent her from choking to death. But obviously they all had their issues because of what they had suffered emotionally, mentally, and physically. Yet with Remus’ care they all managed to live into their late teens and early 20’s. They were all such loving ponies and so didn’t deserve how they had been treated. Does any animal ever deserve that kind of treatment?

This particular rescue operation took just two days, but in some cases it can take weeks and even months, running into tens of thousands of pounds. As you’ve no doubt realised from the story of Benjamin and his friends above, the cost is not restricted just to the rescue but must also encompass their ongoing specialist care.

Your support made this rescue mission possible.

Please, help us to help more animals and stop them from being born to die, by participating in our 40th Anniversary Challenge. If you’re a business, you’ll be pleased to hear you can also support us. Please sign up as a Corporate member with Give as you Live first.

Are you up for the challenge?


New Corporate Fundraising Platform

Did you know that you can help boost your CSR (corporate social responsibility) and ESG (environmental, social and governance) or B Corp initiatives in partnership with Remus Horse Sanctuary by signing up to Give as you Live’s corporate fundraising platform?

Their unmatched features include:

  • Each fundraising campaign can support up to 5 charities at a time, meaning you can support Remus alongside other amazing charities of your employees’ choice
  • Branded pages with logo, event banner and custom messaging, keeping your campaigns authentic and relevant to your company
  • Utilisation of matched funding facilities to easily double your employees’ donations
  • All reports providing the best-in-class level of GDPR-compliant data, keeping track of your fundraising goals
  • Expert fundraising managers a call away and on hand to help, enabling you to have a personalised approach to your fundraising initiatives
  • ‘Basic FREE Plan’ and ‘Plus Monthly/Annual Plan’ options, so you can fundraise and support us whatever your budget!

As you may already know, this year we are celebrating our 40th Anniversary and have created our 40th Anniversary Challenge intended to help raise awareness of animals being born to die. Participation in the Challenge or as part of your CSR/ESG initiatives, would greatly help the Sanctuary in our mission.

Why should your business participate in CSR/ESG initiatives?

For many consumers nowadays, exhibiting your business’ values is an important element in deciding which businesses to support and buy from. As a small business or corporate, the ability to affirm your charitable values with corporate fundraising best presents your commitment to making a difference and betters the image of your company mission.

Additionally, it’s a terrific tool for your internal marketing, allowing staff members to interact and cooperate in new settings. Plus, it allows teams to liaise with individuals in the business whom they might not often interact with.

Find out more here > And remember, you can select up to five charities to support – though please make sure one of them is Remus Horse Sanctuary!

Remus Horse Sanctuary Celebrates 40th Anniversary

2023 sees Remus Horse Sanctuary in Essex celebrate its 40th anniversary. Sue Burton, founder of the charity in 1983, recounts how it all started and those first ten years:

“Coming from London I had never met a horse so was amazed when having moved to Essex, on a trip to see a friend I noticed a field full of horses and remember thinking how many there were. I knew nothing about them and therefore was oblivious to the fact that these horses were in desperate need of help, until I saw the photograph on the front page of the Romford Recorder in February 1983 [pictured] about the horses at Rainham Marshes, and this is what got me started.

“I could not believe that in this day and age we allowed animals to die and did nothing. This gave me the impetus to go back over and try to help and contact other animal welfare people in the area – friendships and acquaintances that have lasted to this day.

“After being involved with the Rainham Marsh horses, my friend Pat and I soon heard of the awful plight of Remus [pictured]. Again, I could not believe that another horse had died, another entity wiped out, and yet so few people seemed to care. 

“Before long, I was involved in an animal rights group and because Pat had equine knowledge, she and I went out to see a horse that was meant to be in a bad way and in particular her foal was becoming a nuisance – apparently attacking people on the footpath. We went out to Hornchurch and found Misty [pictured], tethered with the most enormous swollen face and her foal – cheeky chappie Pickles running amok in the area! 

“We were able to take them both and took them to a yard in Aveley where sadly the vet diagnosed Misty as having a fractured skull, which had happened some months before when she was one of those horses left on Rainham Marshes. We had no option but to end her suffering and let her go but poor Pickles was distraught. It took many months for him to start interacting and playing again. He remained a cheeky chappie all his life and loved getting up to mischief when he was able to.

“Once we had Pickles, we had to find somewhere to keep him so took on a few stables and fields in Havering-atte-Bower. Then followed Jenna donkey with severely overgrown hooves; Butch a 5-day-old calf who had been left to die, and then Caesar [pictured] who had been illegally castrated and left in a stable on 5 ft of dung. Instead of mucking him out the owner just had a square of the roof cut out for his head to stick out, the entire length of his spine was cut where it had rubbed against the roof. It was pitiful to see him, and it took many visits before we were able to convince the owner to let us take him.

“In these situations, it’s always important to achieve what you need – to get the animal out of the awful situation and you don’t want to upset the owner as you want to help the animal. We have always said a large part of our work is social work before we can help the animal. This was a perfect example – as I remember only too clearly her dog constantly chewing on my wrist – which I put up with as I so wanted to get Caesar out of there! When we did get him out the first year was fraught with him needing an operation, him dragging us almost daily face down across the muck heap and nearly giving Pat an unplanned mastectomy. Funny now but not then!

“We went on to take in many animals and I always recall getting a call in 1987 to some horses in Essex. We stumbled late at night over fields that were 3-4 ft deep in snow. I gave up trying to count how many times we fell over in the snow in the pitch darkness. When we entered the Barn we stopped dead in our tracks – as an animal Belsen met us.

“Emaciated, lice infested animals, without food, water or bedding. Their urine frozen to the ground. The youngsters had never been let out and did not know how to walk and, when we could take the horses out the next day, we had to move each leg for the youngsters as they did not appear to be able to walk. The bigger one Benjamin [pictured] had had a stake rammed through his stifle (the area where the tibia meets the femur) which went on to cause him problems throughout his life. We took five horses out and all had such awful problems. Getting them well became all-consuming and we worked so hard to give them the best we could to allow them to go on to lead healthy lives and to forget about all they had experienced at such a young age.

“The cases came in thick and fast – horses kept in houses, the awful plight of the Rush Green Horses – suffering seemed to be everywhere, and we did what we could for those that we could. For Ben who had been left with a fractured pelvis and we couldn’t save, despite a scaffold company, the Fire Brigade and vets involved in trying to assist him.

“Little Heidi came to us in 1987 at just 5 days old. Her mum had been tethered and had died on the chain and Heidi was left with a headcollar that had cut into her face. She needed years of care including operations to get her well but went on to live a lovely life, except when she got us into trouble having decided it was fun to pick people up by their clothing and push them into the ditch!

“In 1992 Dorset came in pitifully thin and covered in cigarette burns – as you can see from the photo.


“The most rewarding part of the job is to get the animals beyond what they have suffered. To get the weight on, to ease their mental suffering, to help them get over what they have suffered, and it never fails to amaze me that whatever they suffer at the hands of humanity – they always begin to trust again!

“It’s just an amazing feeling to be able to win their trust after all that they have endured.”

The story obviously continues and hopefully will for many years to come but, in conclusion, Sue says: “I am so proud of what Remus has achieved in its 40 years. I am proud of where we are now and how much we have improved. I am proud of everyone who is involved now and has been involved over those years in whatever way to help develop us to do the work we now achieve.”

Look out for further information on the website and Facebook page, as the charity celebrates throughout the year.

Remus Horse Sanctuary is fundraising for winter food. Learn more here >

Celebrating 40 Years

2023 marks the Sanctuary’s 40th Birthday, which is an absolutely amazing achievement especially given all the setbacks and issues that we have faced over those years. We are proud to have done so much good work and touched, helped and saved so many horses, ponies, donkeys and other animals over the years but we could not have done it without you and your help and support. Thank you so much for all that you do and have done for Remus over the years, and to our staff and volunteers, our vets and suppliers, and the Holistic Team and Physiotherapists who all come together to do the very best that we can for as many needy animals as we can.

“Wherever man has left his footprints in the long ascent from barbarism to civilization, we find the hoofprints of a horse beside it!”

It’s been a busy winter at Remus. You’ll remember that in the summer we had no grass due to the heatwave – the paddocks turned to scrub and dust! Then in October and November it was so mild that the grass just kept growing and growing, so we experienced (and saw) a lot of laminitic cases at a time of year when you would not expect it. Since then, we’ve seen flooding and freezing, and snow, and more flooding. And freezing. Which is why we have just launched our winter hay appeal. Please will you help us?

There are lots of other ways you can help us too: are you able to get one new member signed up; get some of our leaflets out; organise a fundraising event for us; ask your local shop about taking one of our collection tins? The winter is a particularly difficult time for us at the best of times, but in the present economic climate, that of course, becomes much more difficult – so please if you can support Remus in any way it would be such a tremendous help.

Please do get in touch if you can make a donation towards the winter appeal – you can do so online or by calling the office to make a donation over the telephone, or by sending a cheque. It is so rewarding at the end of a working day to walk around the Sanctuary and see all the animals happy, contented and eating, and relaxed, and to know that they are all safe for life and will never have to fear hunger, pain or suffering again. YOUR help makes this possible.

Click to learn more and donate to our Winter Hay Appeal.

Latest Appeal

Remus Cry for Help
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Clothes Recycling

iCollect Clothes badge

Recycle For Charity

Recycle 4 Charity badge

Give as you Live

Give as you Live sign up

Prevent Charity Fraud

Prevent Charity Fraud

Give as you Live Donate

Give as you Live Donate