A pair of rescue ponies from Redwings Horse Sanctuary have wowed the judges at a county show, despite once being found in desperate circumstances.

Redwings Elsa and Redwings Honey were crowned Rescue Champion and Reserve Champion at the Royal Norfolk Show. Elsa, a 13.3hh seven-year-old cob, was only called up to attend on the morning of the classes (Thursday 29 June) after another pony was not able to attend. Despite this, she triumphed in the ring, winning the In-hand Rescue class with her handler Megan Spandler from Redwings’ rehoming team, who were delighted when she was placed as Champion overall.

Redwings Elsa and Megan Spandler

Elsa came to Redwings in 2019, but her rescue story started in 2016 when she was first taken in by the RSPCA, abandoned and with “horrendous” injuries to her back legs. She was just nine months old and had very large infected abrasions across her hindquarters which were so deep they were exposing her muscles. Click here to view an image of her wounds, please note, contains graphic images.

Thanks to the care she received from the RSPCA, Elsa made a full recovery. The RSPCA then reached out to Redwings, with their speciality in sanctuary care, to secure her a long-term home.

Elsa attended the Royal Norfolk Show not just to compete in the ring, but to be part of the Rescue Village, promoting the work of equine welfare charities and their rehoming programmes. It is hoped that she will soon be available to rehome from Redwings as an unbacked project for an experienced equestrian who could take on her training to become a ridden pony.

‘Words can’t express how much we love her’

Redwings Honey when she was rescued

Reserve Champion went to Redwings Honey and her 12-year-old Guardian Elli-May Baskerville, after they won the Ridden Veteran Rescue class, qualifying them for the Championship.

Honey has been living with the Baskerville family since 2018. The 12.2hh, 17-year-old Welsh cross was rescued in 2011, as one of 23 horses who came to Redwings from “squalid conditions” at a farm in Northern Ireland. Many of the group were underweight, with parasitic burdens and suffering from strangles. Honey was also in foal, and later gave birth to a healthy colt.

“Honey is such a special pony to us, and Elli-May has had showing her at the Royal Norfolk Show on her horsey bucket-list,” said Rachael Baskerville, Honey’s Guardian and Elli-May’s mum. “They have achieved so much together, but most importantly Honey is absolutely Elli-May’s best friend. Words will never be enough to express how much we all love her, and the rosettes are the icing on the cake.”

(Left to right) Redwings Budgie and handler Dean, Redwings Elsa and handler Megan, Redwings Honey and rider Elli- May and Redwings Edward and Guardian Claire

Also representing Redwings Horse Sanctuary in the Rescue classes at the Royal Norfolk Show were Redwings Edward and his Guardian Claire Davenport, who placed second in the In-hand Rescue class and Redwings Budgie and Dean Hannington, who had also been representing the charity in the Rescue Village, who placed fifth.

“We could not be prouder of our Redwings ponies and their rosettes,” said Redwings CEO, Lynn Cutress. “Champion Elsa did us especially proud after she stepped in at such short notice, and it is real credit to the rehoming team for the work they do in their training that both her and Budgie, who is only four years old, flourished in such a busy and prestigious show environment.

“To see Honey and her Guardian family triumph is also especially heartwarming. Her group’s rescue was a complex case for Redwings, and even saw our vets providing key testimony to ensure their owners were prosecuted for their neglect, so we’re delighted that she has found such a lovely home, and continues to be loved and cherished by her new family.”

To find out more about rehoming a horse from Redwings, visit redwings.org.uk/rehoming

Lead image of Rescue Champion Redwings Elsa and Megan Spandler and Reserve Champion Redwings Honey and Guardian Elli-May Baskerville 

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