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Worried about a horse
Redwings operates a welfare support helpline to talk through any concerns that someone has about a horse, pony, donkey or mule.
We would encourage anyone who is worried about an equine to call our welfare line on 01508 481008 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. However, in an emergency, please call the RSPCA on 0300 1234 999.
Calls to our welfare line are entirely confidential and we will help in anyway we can. However, it can also be useful to read some of the advice and information on our website about equine needs.
Redwings has Field Officers that can assess a situation of potential concern and take the matter forward if needs be. We only cover certain areas of the country, but we care and are always happy to provide advice and signpost anyone with concerns to fellow rescue organisations in those regions where we have no permanent boots on the ground. If called upon, we do of course participate in rescues outside of the areas which we cover because of the skilled expertise we have in handling feral and challenging equines.
In all circumstances, providing detailed, accurate and up-to-date information about the equines and their location is vital.
For a Field Officer to attend a potential welfare case, they need to know exactly where the horse is (what3words or a postcode are very helpful), how many horses are involved, have a full description of its perceived condition (very thin, lame, suffering from a wound etc) and know what it looks like, for example its size, colouring and any markings, so it is easily identifiable.
We often receive calls from members of the public who are concerned about equines that they have seen tethered on a rope or chain. These are often noticed on open areas of land or close to roadways. Under current law, however, tethering is not illegal and welfare professionals can only intervene to help a tethered horse if the horse is actually suffering in some way.
If the horse is in good bodily condition and is tethered so that the fittings are not causing pain or discomfort, then the owner is not guilty of any offence.
Although we acknowledge that tethering is not the ideal way to manage horses and it’s not something we would ever do at Redwings, if done properly and to the correct standards it can be an effective short-term management method for some owners, especially to prevent stallions from wandering or to prevent horses from straying onto busy roads.
Equines straying on or near a road need to be reported immediately to the police, who are responsible for the safety of road users. The police are not usually able to transport or handle the equine but will do their best to prevent an accident and make enquiries to locate the owner.
In Norfolk, Redwings has an agreement with the county’s police force to collect and board straying equines until an owner can be found. However, if you spot a stray equine, it must be reported to the police first and NOT to Redwings. This was the first agreement of its kind in the country and has helped many equines since it was set up in 2006.
There are laws and procedures in place in the UK for dealing with cases of animal cruelty or neglect and it is always best to call on a professional welfare organisation to assist in such matters.
If you are aware of a horse being neglected or in need of rescue, please contact our welfare support line on 01508 481008.
The best way to help Redwings is to offer your support and help us to help more horses! However, if you are very keen to take on a rescued horse, why not consider rehoming one of our rescued residents through our Guardianship Scheme?
Redwings received on average 26 requests every month in 2022 from people who would like to secure a future for their horse or pony within the Sanctuary – totalling 426 horses. Unfortunately, we simply cannot accommodate this enormous number of equines without seriously compromising the welfare of our residents.
Even as the largest horse sanctuary in the UK, Redwings can only care for a certain number of equines and very limited space is available for new arrivals each year. Sadly, there are more than enough welfare cases to keep us very busy and almost constantly full. We believe that this is where Redwings supporters and horse enthusiasts would want our focus to be. There are no easy solutions for unwanted, retired equines but our Welfare team can provide information for owners and potential owners about preparing for retirement from the outset.
There is no short answer to this question because of the huge number of factors and considerations that go into running a successful sanctuary. Although passion and commitment are essential to rescuing and caring for equines, they are not enough on their own and it is the practicality and business sense of people involved that are the mainstay of positive equine welfare.
To find out more information about what establishing and running a sanctuary involves, get in touch to talk it over with a member of our team.