Rare breed bonanza at Redwings!

Within the space of two days in 2014 we welcomed two sets of very rare breed equines into the Sanctuary, including two foals.

We are thrilled to announce that two extremely rare Suffolk Punches have arrived at one of our centres in Norfolk, while Redwings Oxhill in Warwickshire has just greeted four French Poitou donkeys, including two foals.

Wilf and Stanley
Wilf and Stanley, two Suffolk Punch geldings, were rescued by our Field Officer Julie Harding and World Horse Welfare’s Jacko Jackson from a site in Norfolk when it was clear their owner was not giving them the care they needed. They were kept in a barn for over a year with no opportunity for exercise, Wilf was suffering from severe sweet itch that had caused the majority of his mane to fall out, while both had very poor feet that had not been trimmed in some time.

The two horses, both 16hh and seven years old, have been together since birth and are firm friends. Their owner agreed to sign them over to us so they could receive all the treatment they needed.

Stanley (left) and Wilf, aren't they stunning?

Julie said: “We are just so glad these horses will be able to get all the proper care they need and can finally stretch their legs. We feel so privileged to have two such stunning chaps in our care and we hope they will soon be able to go to one of our visitor centres so our supporters can see these magnificent and historic creatures close up.”

The iconic Suffolk Punch (or Suffolk Horse) is the oldest breed of heavy horse in Great Britain. Their lineage can be traced back to the 16th century. They were used across East Anglia for hundreds of years for farming but the mechanisation of farming in the 1930s saw a devastating decline in their numbers and in 1966 there were just nine foals born in the whole of the UK. Thankfully action was taken before it was too late and although they are still included on the Rare Breeds Survival Trust watchlist as critical (less than 300 registered breeding females in 2014), population numbers are now on the increase thanks to the efforts of charities and the breed societies. They are always chestnut (known as ‘chesnut’ for this breed only).

As they have had no training, Wilf and Stanley are currently spending time at our Behaviour Centre where they are learning basic handling before they go to live at one of our visitor centres.

Millie, Arya, Adel and Merlin
Then the following week, our Oxhill visitor centre in Warwickshire welcomed a family of gorgeous new arrivals in the very hairy shape of Millie and Adel – two Poitou donkeys – and their babies Arya and Merlin, who came to Redwings from a long standing Redwings welfare volunteer when he was sadly no longer able to care for them.

Arya (born in July) and Merlin (born in May) are both part bred Poitou, as is Adel, but Millie is a full registered Poitou donkey standing at 14.2hh with the traditional shaggy coat, known as a cadanette. Meanwhile her stunning daughter Arya is a real headturner. Pretty Adel was originally rescued from the meat trade in Italy and she gave birth to little Merlin in May. She is a part bred Poitou but traces of her traditional coat can still be seen in Winter.

Altogether now, aw...!

Poitous (also known as the Baudet) are a very rare breed originating from France with only around 400 left in the world. They actually faced extinction in the 1970s when a census revealed only 77 in the world, but a programme to save the Baudet was launched and the population is now on the increase, albeit very slowly. They are renowned for their wonderful hairy coats, and they are also one of the largest donkey breeds in the world, with adults growing to between 14hh and 15hh (an average donkey is usually 10-11hh).

Redwings Oxhill farm manager Helen Glen said: “What an absolute delight these four are. They arrived late on Friday but we all stayed to welcome them and it’s safe to say we haven’t done any work since! They are very friendly, very sweet donkeys and we know our visitors are going to absolutely love them.”

Millie (left) and Adel

Adorable Arya!

You can visit these gorgeous donkeys at our visitor centre every day from 10am to 4pm, and entry is free of charge! Find out more here... or see more pics on our Facebook page...

To help with their care you can make a donation. Thanks for your support - we will of course keep you posted on their progress!

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