Redwings Horse Sanctuary has rehomed a record number of horses this year despite its Guardianship Scheme being suspended for two months due to lockdown restrictions.

This year has proved challenging for welfare organisations, but despite this, Redwings has seen a 75 percent increase in the number of equines finding new homes compared to the previous year, and the charity rehomed more horses in the time since its scheme was reinstated in May than in the whole of 2019.

Redwings attributed the rehoming boom to the expansion of its Guardianship Scheme, which included the construction of new rehoming centres at its Caldecott Visitor Centre in Norfolk and Oxhill Visitor Centre in Warwickshire last year.

As lockdown restrictions eased, its teams also turned to technology to find new ways to run its scheme and match rescued ponies with potential guardians, such as virtual home checks and introductions via video.

“Lockdown came just as we were about to enter our busiest season for rehoming enquiries and our new rehoming centres were getting started on training their first intake of ponies, so it was a really disappointing to have to press pause on our scheme at that time,” said Rachel Angell, Head of Norfolk Equine Operations who manages Redwings’ rehoming scheme.

“While unfortunately there are still some restrictions around rehoming our ridden horses, thanks to the adaptions we made to our application process, we have been able to safely rehome our unbacked project ponies and non-ridden companions since lockdown.

“Even with the increased demand, we were careful to ensure our priority remained finding responsible guardians who could offer long-term homes and it’s been a joy to see such a record number of our horses successfully finding new families this year.

“By rehoming a rescued horse from a registered charity, they have helped to create space at the sanctuary so we can help more horses in desperate need in the future.”

Mocha was in a poor state

A new life

One of the first ponies to complete his training at the Oxhill centre, and then be rehomed through Redwing’s new virtual process, was Redwings Mocha who is now living in Norfolk with his guardian Debbie (pictured top).

Inspired by a friend who was already a Redwings rehomer, Debbie fell in love with Mocha’s profile on our website.

“The virtual process was fabulous and really easy,” she said. “The Redwings rehoming team emailed me lots of videos and photos of him and his training so far.”

Mocha was one of 23 horses rescued in 2011 from a site in Northern Ireland.

Cookie at the time of her rescue

They were found living in “appalling” conditions and in a “terrible state of suffering”, left without food, water or clean bedding, and many of them had worm infestations, overgrown hooves and infectious diseases such as strangles.

Once at Redwings they were named after breakfast items and the group became known as ‘The Breakfast Club’.

Several of The Breakfast Club have now been rehomed, including Mocha.

Debbie rehomed him as an unbacked project and has since arranged for him to be professionally trained to be ridden and now the pair enjoy hacking together.

“I am so proud of him,” she added. “He has learnt so much in such a short space of time.

“His trainer said he was by far the best horse she had ever backed which I’m sure is down to the groundwork done at Redwings.

“In our hacks around the village he is never phased by anything, I am amazed by him and he’s a little superstar.”

Meanwhile, Redwings Cookie recently marked her one-year anniversary in her new home and has transformed since she came to the charity as an emaciated pony in 2016.

She was the only survivor from a group of three mares rescued from a site in south Norfolk who were suffering severe issues with their digestive systems due to heavy worm burdens and irreparable liver damage.

Cookie thriving in her new life with Angela

Cookie made a full recovery and was rehomed in November 2019 to Angela in Suffolk as an unbacked project horse.

“I can’t believe it’s been a year already, but I’ve loved every moment of being Cookie’s guardian,” said Angela. “She’s been such a joy to work with, from building her trust and confidence, to backing her and then getting her out and about. Every step of the way has been packed full of rewards.”

The pair have developed a strong bond, and in August they entered their first dressage competition and came home with a rosette. They have also enjoyed volunteering for Suffolk Police while they hack.

The rehoming process

Rehoming a rescued horse or pony from Redwings is free of charge, but £50 is requested towards the cost of their passport and additional donations are welcome.

Redwings retains ownership of all its rehomed horses, so if the circumstances of the rehomer were to change, the horse could return to the sanctuary.

Click here to find out more about our Guardianship Scheme and the ponies ready to be rehome.