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?


Family of Elderly Shetland Ponies Rehomed

Damson, April and Mopsey find sanctuary at the horse charity in Buttsbury, near Ingatestone in Essex.

Three elderly Shetland Ponies, all in their thirties, have been rehomed at Remus Horse Sanctuary after their owner was struggling to look after them. Damson (38 years old), mother of April (32 years old) and aunt to Mopsey (36 years old) will be loved and cared for at the Sanctuary and receive the required medication to manage their various ailments.

At present the girls are in isolation whilst tests are being carried out to ascertain their needs – elderly horse care is a specialty at the Sanctuary. As horses and ponies get older it is vital owners are aware of their changing needs – in particular their teeth, diet, stabling and general healthcare.

The picture shows these delightful little girls from left to right: Damson, mother of foal April, and her niece Mopsey. Damson suffers from Cushings’ disease (PPID), which she is being treated for, and Laminitis. Due to her thick Cushingoid coat she has been clipped.

The previous owner, an elderly lady who was struggling to look after the ponies and her own sickly mother at the same time, contacted founder Sue Burton to see if the charity could help.

“It broke her heart to part with them, but she had the strength to make the right decision by them and let them come to Remus,” said Sue.

Extensive blood tests are required on all new animals at the Sanctuary. They have had their first Strangles test which came back clear. Once the second test is completed and they have the all-clear, they will be able to go out into the paddocks, meet the other ponies and live the rest of their lives together.

“Damson, April and Mopsey are such delightful little girls! They’ve always been together and, by coming to Remus, we will ensure they stay together.

“At the moment, this is quite a change for them, and Damson is quiet and quite nervous. April the youngest and by far the spriteliest has a lot of character and is the most confident. Mopsey is quiet and timid, she’s still not sure of us.

‘All three love their food and are eating well, which is always a good sign. We’re really looking forward to seeing how they develop and settle in at Remus.”

Anyone wishing to make a donation to support the ongoing care of Damson, April and Mopsey at the Sanctuary can do so online or direct to the charity. Details can be found at: People can also find out about sponsoring the newly homed Shetland Ponies here:

For further information, visit or contact Sue Burton on tel: 01277 356191.

Abandoned and Tethered Horses and Ponies Need Help

Sue Burton, Founder of Remus Horse Sanctuary near Ingatestone in Essex, is appealing for urgent assistance to help save the many horses and ponies that will die needlessly this year from starvation. The charity has created an appeal page on Just Giving to help raise £2,500 towards the cost –

The New Year generally brings colder weather as we’re already seeing and, as well as giving top class care to the Sanctuary residents, there are many more horses and ponies out there who are not so lucky and that Remus Horse Sanctuary also need to keep an eye on.

However, at this time of year, Remus Horse Sanctuary struggles to respond to all of the reports they receive from members of the public.

Ms Burton commented, “We try and rescue as many animals as we possibly can, but we just cannot physically be everywhere we are needed – and it all comes at a great cost. This situation continues to be a huge crisis in the UK, which many people just don’t realise.”

The horse welfare crisis in the UK has been escalating for many years and the news regularly features horses that are victims of physical and mental abuse.

Remus continue to receive calls daily throughout the year. However, the cold winter months will make any situation worse. With the public’s help, the Charity’s Welfare Watch aims to deliver assistance to horses in crisis in and around Essex and the South East of England.

Keeping an animal fed over winter will give it a chance to thrive into Spring. Forage will also help keep horses and ponies warm, yet a tethered horse may not have access to this. Without the Sanctuary’s help, many animals will die a slow, painful and unnecessary death in the unrelenting cold weather.

“The public can help us by working together. Please take a look at our Welfare Watch and we will continue to do everything we can to avoid many horses and ponies from suffering. The more information you can provide on the form, the better.”

Details of the Remus Welfare Watch can be found online at:

Additionally, the Sanctuary sustained a lot of damage during Storm Ciara, losing an entire field shelter (pictured) and felt from roofs.

The charity also offers a variety of foodstuffs online which people can buy: donate a bale of hay, bag of animal food, straw bedding etc. A week’s supply of food and hay for a tethered horse will help improve their life and wellbeing for just £25 and help get them through the cold winter months. Visit: to find out more or contact Sue Burton on telephone: 01277 356191.

Charity Reminds People to Remember Rescued Animals this Christmas

As families and friends sit down to their Christmas feast on Christmas Day and pile on the leftovers on Boxing Day, Remus Horse Sanctuary are asking people everywhere to consider its rescued animals.

Sue Burton, Founder of Remus Horse Sanctuary commented: “Every year we see hundreds of horses and ponies die during the winter months through starvation. This continues to be a huge crisis in the UK. We try and rescue as many animals as we possibly can, but this comes at a substantial cost.”

Remus Horse Sanctuary will not euthanise by age alone and, as our rescued animals get older, the medical bills increase, and they require more time, care, special food, and heat to keep them warm over the winter months.

The charity has created an appeal page on Just Giving to help raise £2,500 towards the cost.

The news regularly features horses that are victims of physical and mental abuse and Remus continue to receive calls daily throughout the year. However, the cold winter months will make any situation worse and the animals at Remus need your help.

Keeping an animal fed over winter will give it a chance to thrive into spring – forage also helps keep horses and ponies warm. Without the Sanctuary’s help, many animals would die a slow, painful and unnecessary death in the unrelenting cold weather.

Sue added: “We’re launching the new winter feed appeal to raise £2,500 to help feed not only the animals in our care at the farm, but also to help aid more rescue operations.” 

We also offer a variety of foodstuffs via our online shop where people can buy and donate a bale of hay, bag of animal food, straw bedding and more. A week’s supply of food and hay for a tethered horse will help improve their life and wellbeing for just £25 and help get them through the cold winter months.

Visit: to find out more or contact Sue Burton on telephone: 01277 356191.

Donations to the appeal can be made via the website at or via the Just Giving appeal page at:


#YouMadeItHappen is a social media campaign created by NCVO (The National Council for Voluntary Organisations) who champion the voluntary sector and volunteering because they’re essential for a better society.

It is taking place on Monday 19 November.

The NCVO recognise that what people want to hear about from charities, is the difference their support has made, so we’ve put together just a few lines of ways in which you help us!

  • When little Dante was dumped at our gates in 2015, we were able to give him the medical attention, food, time, care and love that he needed for him to grow into a strong and healthy adult.
  • When a gust of wind in 2016, demolished one of our much-needed field shelters for our animals, you helped us replace it.
  • When we rescued 2 horses from Kent that had been in a field for 14 weeks with no food, water or attention, your support helped us to do so. Sadly we lost Lady as she was just too sick and too malnourished, but Blax is thriving.
  • When we needed to rescue 8 horses this summer that were all sick and malnourished, including 4 stallions that had been kept in closed dirty stables for two years, you helped us.
  • When we rescued the two blind and pregnant mares Holly and Grace, who then gave birth to Bracken and Jess, your support enabled us not only to do so, but to give them the attention they needed to thrive into young and healthy adults and to provide a special, protective area for Holly and Grace to spend time outside safely.
  • When Tony Goat came to us with half his jaw hanging off, you enabled us to fix him!
  • When Pippa and Minstral needed specialist eye operations, you helped us raise the funds to pay for their medical care.

These are just a few of the ways in which you help Remus every day – in fact we could not continue to do what we do without you! We get no grants and can only stay afloat by fundraising and the support offered to us by volunteers.

This year we celebrated our 35th Anniversary #YouMadeItHappen!

If you would like to find out more about volunteering for Remus, visit the web page here and, if you’re not already doing so, please follow us on Facebook and Twitter too.

You might also like to take a look at our Winter Feed Appeal for 2018.

We look forward to hearing from you!

New Attractions at Sanctuary Open Day

Visitors to the Remus Horse Sanctuary Open Day on Sunday 4 June will be able to try their hand at dog agility, meet various Princess characters from children’s films and enjoy a wildlife talk called ‘Bird Habitats Around Billericay’, with Bird Song. Entry to the event will be just £4 for adults and £2 for children and will take place from 1pm to 5pm at the Sanctuary near Ingatestone.

The Sanctuary offers entertainment for the whole family, with a kids’ corner, bouncy castle, competitions and games, music from local band Midnite Blu, delicious refreshments including sandwiches (many gluten free) and homemade cakes, alongside stalls and a raffle.  Parking is available on-site, with disabled access and dogs are welcome on a lead.

The Sanctuary provides rehabilitation and care for over 200 animals, including horses, ponies, donkeys, cows, goats, sheep and cats.  The Open Days are a vital source of fundraising for the charity that, due to its location on greenbelt land, can only open to the public for a limited number of days each year.

Founder of the Sanctuary, Sue Burton, says, “The Open Days are a really important to us, not only in terms of fundraising, but educating people about what we do here.  In addition to the dog agility and wildlife talk this month, visitors will have opportunity to learn how to take heart rates and measure a horse, as well as learning about the different feeding strategies that we use.”

Appeal From Horse Charity Following Devastating Flooding

Sue Burton, Founder of Remus Horse Sanctuary is appealing to the public for their help and support after what has been a disastrous start to the charity’s fundraising efforts this season.  The recent flooding has left the Sanctuary short of funds and struggling to cope.

Sue Burton said “We had to already cancel our May and June Open Days due to the wet weather and, to make matters worse, after spending two days under up to 5ft of flood water last week we had to take the desperate measure of cancelling our July Open Day and Dog Show too, another huge major fundraising loss.”

This year the Sanctuary has been extremely busy working to and succeeding to help horses in Essex that are in distress through neglect and starvation, whilst of course still giving all the care needed to the 200 animals at the Sanctuary.

Sue further explained, “To lose our major Summer fundraising events is a very hard blow indeed. These events are essential to us in order to replenish our depleted coffers to help fund the Sanctuary through the rest of the summer and most essentially the Winter season.”

Recently Minstral, one of the Sanctuary’s rescue horses, had a severe eye problem.  Her eye effectively exploded, which ultimately meant very expensive surgery by a leading eye surgeon from Newmarket to remove the eye completely. Sue said, “We cannot plan for these sorts of problems and therefore need to have the necessary funds in place to make sure that should the animals need urgent help that we can provide it for them and maintain the high standard of welfare that they deserve.”

“We would be very grateful for any help that the generous public can offer us by way of making a donation, organising a fundraising event to raise money for us, sponsoring one of the animals or by donating to one of our appeals.”  There are lots of ways to help the charity through this very difficult time and Sue would love to hear from anyone who can help and will be so appreciative of anything that be done to assist them care for all the deserving animals at Remus.

To make a donation click here, to contribute to our appeal click here or, for more ways to help Remus, click here.


And the animals went in two by two…

And the animals went in two by two… alongside is Amber and Blossom slowly making their way to shelter following the horrific flooding experienced at the Sanctuary recently.

For those unfamiliar with the Sanctuary, there are no lakes within the grounds (or at least not normally!).

On Thursday 23 June, all three roads into Buttsbury were flooded and the road direct to the Sanctuary was 5ft deep! Our muck heap collector lorry got stuck in it! The staff all had to walk across fields to get in. The cows shelter was under water and the cows and some of the ponies needed to be moved to the back fields for safety. One of our volunteers was up to his chest in the flood water on the road and nearly floated away!

Five days on and the road into us was still flooded and the water on the fields lasted for a further three days. In addition to our own problems, a large fish was left flapping in a field and was rescued and returned to the river by Charlotte, and Alex, whilst taking one of the horses out heard screaming and rescued a woman who had fallen into the ford!

This is an extreme situation. Once again we will have to cancel the Open Day, now for the third time in a row. The last time we saw it this bad was in 2012. We are so proud of our staff who walk in and out before and after work and continue to care for the animals and still smile.

We need to get ourselves back on our feet and we can only do that with your help. Please contribute to our Cry For Help Appeal today! We will also be holding a Summer Sale at Stock Village Hall on Saturday 2nd to help raise funds following the floods and cancellations. Full details here. If you can’t donate, please visit us on Saturday and vice versa!

Thank you!

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