Rescue horses taken in by Redwings Horse Sanctuary have been named after NHS hospitals in tribute to the UK’s frontline healthcare workers.

The names of the 19 horses and ponies taken in include Queen Elizabeth, Alexandra, Gwent, Radcliffe, Paget, Good Hope and Princess Royal.

The equines were a part of the 137 horses rescued from Whispering Willows Sanctuary in Wales in November 2019. The owner of Whispering Willows recently pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to the animals in their care and was banned from keeping all horses for 10 years.

Redwings offered a new home to 23 horses, who arrived in varying states of poor health and some were very fearful of people. However, four were put to sleep shortly after their arrival when it became clear that their health issues were too great to overcome.

Gwent — photo supplied by Redwings

After receiving basic care, including worming, farriery and dental checks, the remaining 19 horses recovered well physically.

Due to their previous lack of handling, the majority of the group are now receiving ongoing care and training at Redwings’ specialist behaviour centre in Norfolk.

“On a physical level, the horses have recovered well but most are currently spending time at our specialist behaviour centre to undo the neglect of their behavioural needs experienced while at Whispering Willows which has left them fearful of people,” said Redwings’ Head of Welfare and Behaviour Nic de Brauwere.

“It will be some time before any of them are ready to be assessed for possible rehoming in the future, but for now they’re enjoying happy and healthy new lives at the sanctuary.”

Queen Elizabeth — photo by Redwings

Nic was involved in the horses’ rescue from Whispering Willows.

“One of the saddest things was that people believed the sanctuary was offering a wonderful home, however it was clear that the horses were receiving wholly inadequate levels of care,” said Nic, who is also chair of the National Equine Welfare Council (NEWC).

“Too many times we’ve seen sanctuaries struggle and fail when owners take on too many animals without the necessary care, knowledge, experience or finances, which is why we’ve been calling for the regulation of rescue centres and sanctuaries as a vital next step to protect the welfare of animals in the UK.”

Alexandra (left) and Paget — photos supplied by Redwings