A record-breaking crowd enjoyed a day of exclusive tours, demonstrations and horsey cuddles during a special Open Day at Redwings Horse Sanctuary’s headquarters in south Norfolk on Sunday.
The Open Day at Redwings Hapton, near Long Stratton, attracted over 950 people and raised more than £4,600 to help care for the 1500 rescued horses, ponies, donkeys and mules living at the Sanctuary nationwide.
The event offered many behind-the-scenes glimpses of Redwings’ work, including tours of its Horse Hospital taking in its operating theatre, intensive care stables and special care paddocks, as well as all the adorable four-legged patients currently receiving some extra TLC from the veterinary team.
There was even a special tour just for children where the budding vets of the future were invited to practise their bandaging skills on Redwings mascot Red! There was also pony grooming and face-painting to enjoy.
At the Rehoming Centre, Redwings’ team showcased the handling and riding skills they had been teaching a number of rescued horses and ponies who will soon be looking for new homes through the charity’s Guardianship scheme.
There was the opportunity to meet horsey guest of honour Maya, one of Redwings’ popular Adoption Stars and the Sanctuary’s very own real-life Black Beauty.
A special meet and greet with Maya was accompanied by a reading from a chapter of Black Beauty by Chief Executive Lynn Cutress in honour of the 140th anniversary of the beloved novel’s publication.
Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service also gave a fascinating and dramatic demonstration of how they rescue animals in tricky situations using their training model horse Randy!
Visitors also had the chance to stroll along paddock walks and enjoy cuddles with some of the 300 beautiful rescued residents who call Redwings Hapton home, as well as browse the gift shop, a donated tack sale and a donated bring ‘n’ buy sale, with all proceeds going towards Redwings’ work.
This was the first open event to take place at Redwings Hapton for three years following extensive buildings work at the site and an outbreak of the contagious disease strangles in 2015.
Lynn Cutress, Redwings’ Chief Executive, said: “Having not been in a position to host an Open Day at our Hapton site for a few years, the response and positive feedback we received truly was overwhelming!
"We want to thank everyone who supported the event, as well as the hundreds of people we know made trips to our usual public visitor centres across the country at the weekend.
“It was an honour to be able to give our visitors to Hapton a glimpse at the important work that goes on behind the scenes at Redwings.
"Their incredible generosity on the day in terms of the donations they made and their purchases at our various charitable sales could help fund over 150 training sessions for rescued horses looking for new loving Guardian homes - just like those they saw at our Rehoming Centre.”
Following the event’s success, plans are already underway to repeat the Open Day in 2018.
For anyone who is unable to wait that long, Redwings has five visitor centres nationwide – including Redwings Caldecott, near Great Yarmouth, and Redwings Aylsham, north of Norwich – that are open every Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday, 10am to 4pm, all year round.
Entry at all visitor centres is free and each hosts a series of family activities throughout the school holidays.
For further information, visit www.redwings.org.uk/visiting