Frequently asked questions

If you’ve got a question about Redwings we hope to have it answered below, but if not please contact us.

Donating

What is Gift Aid?

If you are a UK taxpayer, Gift Aid increases the value of your donations by allowing us to reclaim the basic rate of tax on your gift at no extra cost to you. That means we can claim an extra 25p for every £1 you give! Simply complete a Gift Aid Declaration and we will do the rest! Read more about Gift Aid here.

How do I donate unwanted tack to Redwings?

We welcome donations of unwanted or preloved tack as it can be a useful way for our farms to recycle usable equipment, as well as raising funds for our horses through tack sales.

With 1,500 horses living at the Sanctuary, we operate high levels of biosecurity to reduce the risk of disease and spread of infections, so for second-hand, used tack we kindly ask that it is supplied in a clean and usable condition, bagged or boxed. We also kindly ask that rugs are washed and tumble-dried.

If you have any further questions or would like more information about donating used tack, please get in touch here.

How do I know if I am eligible to sign a Gift Aid declaration?

Gift Aid is reclaimed by Redwings from the tax you pay for the current tax year (6 April to 5 April).

To allow us to claim Gift Aid, your Gift Aid declaration must not be more than four times what you have paid in tax in that tax year. The tax could have been paid on income or capital gains.

Please note, if you pay less Income Tax and/or Capital Gains Tax than the amount of Gift Aid claimed on all your donations in that tax year, you will be required to pay any difference.

For more information visit https://www.gov.uk/donating-to-charity/gift-aid

Can I Gift Aid if I have a joint supporter record?

Gift Aid declarations must come from an individual – if you have a ‘joint record’ with a partner or spouse, we can easily set up an individual record for you so just let us know if you are eligible to sign a Gift Aid declaration and we will send one to you!

What methods do you employ to raise funds?

All communication that you receive from Redwings, from emails to letters or phone calls, all comes from the small team here at our Hapton HQ.

We never engage agencies to fundraise for us; that means we do not cold call, knock on doors or hold street collections. We try our best to always be professional and respectful in our fundraising and are members of the FRSB (Fundraising Standards Board), and the IOF (Institute of Fundraising).

We always do our best to fundraise and communicate with our supporters openly and honestly. If you have any feedback on how we fundraise or communicate with you please let us know on info@redwings.co.uk

How do you use my donation?

Redwings Horse Sanctuary is 100% funded by donations from people like you. We receive no government funding, which means every time you donate, you are helping us care for horses and donkeys who have been rescued, as well as helping to prevent more from suffering in the future. This includes providing feed, medication, horse ambulances, welfare officers, care staff, vets, night checks, specialist rehabilitation, tractors, and much, much more. Like all organisations there are also admin costs, but 80p in every £1 you give will go directly towards helping horses.

I would like to make a regular monthly donation. How do I do this?

Firstly, thank you! Regular donations make a huge difference to how we help horses. You make a regular donation via our website by clicking here or by downloading and completing a standing order form and returning to us by post or email. 

What is the difference between a Standing Order and a Direct Debit donation?

With a Direct Debit, an organisation can call-up the funds from your bank – they can also change the amount you give or cancel the payment on your behalf. A Standing Order payment is directed from your bank to Redwings and it gives you 100% control; we cannot amend or cancel the payment, but you can change it at any time you like.

I would like to make a donation through my work place/wage (payroll giving).

This is a great, easy way to give a donation each month. You can donate an hour’s work, or a set amount with schemes including Workplace Giving and Give as you Earn. Your donation will come directly to us and is tax free! Talk to your employer or contact us if you need more advice!

I want to pay a donation with a CAF cheque.

Brilliant – please send it to us at Redwings Horse Sanctuary, Hapton, Norfolk, NR15 1SP – ensuring you include your name and address/supporter number.

Who do I make a cheque payable to?

Please make cheques payable to Redwings Horse Sanctuary. Thank you so much!

Where do I send my cheque?

Please send all correspondence to us at Redwings Horse Sanctuary, Hapton, Norfolk, NR15 1SP and thank you!

Will I get a receipt for my donation?

If you would like a receipt just let us know! If we don’t hear from you then we will automatically send you a receipt if your donation is over £50 unless you request not to receive one so that more of your kindly donated money goes towards helping horses rather than on stamps!

Visiting

Before you visit

Please check our visitor centre pages to check opening times and to book a visit.

Booking in advance helps to guarantee your visit and enables us to manage our resources effectively so that we can offer you the best possible experience whilst minimising costs.

Are you welcoming group visits?

Yes! We love to welcome group visits from schools, home education groups, social clubs, or local businesses.

If you would like to discuss a group visit, please contact us at info@redwings.co.uk

You may also like to consider a virtual visit. Our Red Talks bring our visitor experience to your home/ school or club online so get in touch and we will see if we can accommodate you!

 

When are you open?

  • Redwings Aylsham and Redwings Caldecott

Our two Norfolk Visitor Centres are open every Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday from 10am – 4pm. Tickets available via Eventbrite, find everything you need here. In July and August these centres will be open seven days a week.

  • Redwings Oxhill

Redwings Oxhill is open on Fridays and Mondays and the last weekend of every month during April, May and June. We hope to be back open four days a week in July - check online or call us nearer the time for more information. Tickets available here.

  • Redwings Ada Cole & Redwings Mountains

Redwings Ada Cole and Redwings Mountains continue to welcome private visits on Fridays and Mondays by arrangement and are open to the public for at least one weekend every month. Tickets for our monthly weekend opening can be booked via the links on our visiting pages. Private visits on Mondays and Fridays bookable by emailing or calling the centre directly. There are no plans to return to four-day opening at these two centres.

How do I arrange a private visit to Redwings Ada Cole or Redwings Mountains

Private visits can be arranged directly with the centres by emailing or calling us on:

Redwings Ada Cole, Essex – adacole.vc@redwings.co.uk     01992 892133

Redwings Mountains, Dundee - mountains.vc@redwings.co.uk        01356 650258

 

Why should I visit Redwings?

Redwings’ visitor centres offer acres of paddock walks with scenic views as well as the chance to see our residents.

Spending time around horses is a humbling and peaceful experience. After the stress and turmoil of the last few years, we welcome you to make our sanctuary your sanctuary, and to enjoy some time outdoors with friends and loved ones. It’s great for your wellbeing (trust us!).

Redwings is a national animal welfare charity caring for over 1,500 rescued horses and donkeys. We operate five visitor centres across the UK where you can see first-hand how we care for our residents.

We are funded 100% by public donations.

Our visitor centres are our way of sharing our work with you, to both inspire you to help us, and to thank you for your support.

By visiting us we hope you will learn something about horses and donkeys, their needs and their plight in the UK, and that you will see the difference you can make to their lives.

We also hope you will come away sharing our passion for these incredible animals, and maybe sponsor a horse or donkey, make a donation or simply tell a friend so they visit too.

If you are a seasoned supporter, we invite you to see what a difference your support has made so far and to meet the animals you are helping to care for every day. We also welcome the chance to meet you in person and thank you for caring as much as we do.

 

 

Can I just turn up?

We would rather you booked ahead, but we always aim to have tickets available on the door. Please check our opening times to avoid disappointment.

Booking is easy, simply find the centre you want to visit and follow the booking links, select the day you would like to visit and choose your arrival slot. You will need to book tickets for all members of your party, including children.

For ticket bookings, you will have a 30-minute arrival time slot; you can arrive at any time within this window (e.g. 11am-11.30am).

Are you still free to enter?

Redwings is free to enter, however as always, we ask you to consider donating towards our work.

As a charity funded 100% by public donations, we rely on your support not only to care for our rescued horses and donkeys, but also to provide the facilities that you are able to enjoy when you visit.

To make donating as easy as possible, you can donate when you book your tickets online.

Donating when you book your visit reduces administration so that even more of your gift goes to horses in need. You can also donate by cash or card during your visit if you prefer.

What facilities are open?

All our facilities are open.

There may be restricted access to some areas, such as stables and rehoming arenas if we need to work quietly with our horses or keep our farm team safe.

There may also be restricted access to some equines at Redwings Oxhill due to planned construction works on site.

Are there any Covid measures still in place?

To continue to help keep you and our staff safe, we are retaining some of our Covid measures this spring and summer including:

  • Asking you to pre-book tickets ahead of your visit (a limited number of tickets may be available on the door)
  • Asking you to consider others, especially when indoors, for example by social distancing where possible and appropriate
  • Providing lots of opportunities for you to wash or sanitise your hands regularly when on site

Can I bring a picnic?

You are welcome to bring a picnic and use the dedicated picnic areas, however, please ensure you take your rubbish home with you.

If you do bring a picnic, please consider a small additional donation to help cover the cost of cleaning the picnic area (suggested donation £1 per person picnicking).

Can the dog come too?

Absolutely! We love to welcome our four-legged friends and know that they are part of the family too.

As always, dogs must be well-behaved and kept on a lead at all times.

Dog bins will be available but please take extra care to wash or sanitise your hands after use or take your waste home with you.

How long can I stay?

As long as you like! We expect most visits to last around 1.5 – 3 hours although there is no time limit.

Is there a playground?

Replacing, maintaining, and cleaning our play facilities takes resources which costs the charity much-needed funds. Now more than ever we need those funds to go towards the horses, so we have minimised play areas.

  • Redwings Aylsham has one small play area for our youngest visitors. This has been reduced in size compared to our previous offering as some play equipment had reached end of life and will not be replaced.
  • Redwings Caldecott has a small play area coming later this spring/ summer situated behind Oliver’s Café.
  • Redwings Oxhill no longer has a play area as the play equipment has reached end of life and will not be replaced.

We know our play areas will be missed, but we hope your little ones will have just as much fun walking the site and meeting the horses and donkeys (that’s the best bit about visiting us after all!).

Can I drop off donated goods?

We always welcome clean, good quality donated items including tack and homewares.

You are welcome to bring donated items and we will store these in an allocated area for a quarantine before we put them on sale.

If you have a large number of items to donate please call or email to let us know what to expect and when (01508 481000/ info@redwings.co.uk).

Please note that items must be clean and of good quality otherwise we will not be able to accept your donation. We are not able to accept used towels, blankets or bed linen.

Can I renew my adoption when I visit?

If possible we would ask you to renew your adoption online here https://www.redwings.org.uk/adoption, by telephone on 01508 481000, or by returning your renewal reminder form in the post.

Even better, why not set up a regular payment so that your adoption renews automatically each year? This saves Redwings money, meaning more of your sponsorship donations goes towards caring for your Adoption Star and their friends, and save you the trouble of renewing each year. For more information about setting up a regular gift please email us on info@redwings.co.uk

Will my Adoption Star be having a birthday party?

Adoption Stars who celebrated their birthdays in the first few months of the year continued to do so behind closed doors due to ongoing Covid restrictions. However, those celebrating from the end of May onwards, will be having a party and you’re invited!

This year, to avoid crowds and make the fun last longer, our Adoption Stars will be celebrating over a whole weekend rather than just one day.

Birthday weekend celebrations will be as follows:

Redwings Ada Cole

  • Dolly’s birthday weekend: Friday 10th – Monday 13th June
  • Elvis’ birthday weekend: Friday 24th – Monday 27th June
  • Zippy’s birthday weekend Friday12th – Monday 15th August
  • Dotty’s birthday weekend: Friday 23rd – Monday 26th September

Redwings Aylsham

  • Wiggins and Wacko’s birthday weekend: Friday 17th – Monday 20th June
  • Cookie’s birthday weekend: Friday 25th - Monday 28th June
  • The Gangster’s birthday weekend: Friday 29th July – Monday 1stAugust
  • Gulliver’s birthday weekend: Friday 26th – Monday 29th August

Redwings Caldecott

  • Victoria’s birthday weekend: Friday 27th – Monday 30th May
  • Sampson’s birthday weekend: Friday 1st – Monday 4th July
  • Fox’s birthday weekend: Friday 5th – Monday 9th August
  • Noah’s birthday weekend: Friday 19th – Monday 22nd August
  • Lily’s birthday weekend: Friday 2nd - Monday 5th September
  • Esther’s birthday weekend: Friday 28th - Monday 31st October

Redwings Mountains

  • Gibson’s birthday weekend: Friday 3rd – Monday 6th June
  • Dayzee’s birthday weekend: Friday 22nd – Monday 25th July
  • Minnie’s birthday weekend: Friday 12th – Monday 15th August

Redwings Oxhill

  • Rumpel’s birthday weekend: Friday 8th – Monday 11th July
  • Arya’s birthday weekend: Friday 15th – Monday 18th July
  • Timothy and Cain’s birthday weekend: Friday 5th – Monday 8th August
  • Lady’s birthday weekend: Friday 26th – Monday 29th August

To join us for your Adoption Star’s birthday, book a ticket to visit on their birthday weekend. Activities will vary for each centre and equine so for specific information please check our website nearer the time.

Remember that Monday and Friday visits to Ada Cole and Mountains are for private bookings only and not bookable via Eventbrite.

Don’t forget you can see photos of your friend’s party by visiting their online blog. If you don’t have access, get in touch on info@redwings.co.uk and we will show you how!

Will there be activities I can participate in?

Yes! We aim to offer activities such as a talk or demo each day we are open. These activities are offered on a first come first serve basis and will vary daily depending on the team’s duties and staffing levels. Details of the day’s activities will be available on arrival.

We will not be offering ‘meet and greet’ opportunities with Adoption Stars at this time, however we hope you enjoy seeing them happy in their field enjoying sanctuary life. If you are lucky, they may come over for a cuddle at the fence line.

 

Why can’t we ride the horses when we visit you?

The horses you will meet in our visitor centres are unable to be ridden due to ongoing health or behavioural problems, or because they may simply be too advanced in years.

All the horses that come to us that are able to have a working life are rehomed through our Guardianship Scheme. Those that cannot are given a permanent home at the Sanctuary and the aim of our visitor centres is to show you how we care for these special residents. They may not be able to be ridden, but they definitely love to be cuddled!

Can I bring a dog with me to the visitor centres?

Yes! We love dogs! You are more than welcome to bring your dog with you, we just ask that it is kept on a lead at all times.

I’m coming to see my adopted horse, can I bring a treat for them?

Our horses love treats and you are welcome to bring carrots, apples or ginger biscuits! Unfortunately we are unable to allow visitors to feed the horses themselves but you can hand your treat in at reception and we will make sure it is enjoyed!

I am disabled and use a wheelchair, how wheelchair friendly is the site?

The accessibility of our sites varies from location, if you look on the specific page of our website for each site and read the ‘access statement’ it gives a detailed overview of the layout. It is also worth noting that the site can change due to weather conditions, with paths becoming more uneven and muddy in wet weather. If you are concerned, we recommend phoning us on 01508 505246 (this number is manned from 9am to 4pm seven days a week).

I’m planning a trip to one of your visitor centres, where can I stay nearby?

With five visitor centres located across the country there are lots of places to stay nearby depending on your budget and preferred accommodation. Alongside the following suggestions, we would also advise looking on the Visit England and Visit Scotland websites or booking.com and searching around the local area. The following places to stay are not affiliated with Redwings and we always recommend reading reviews on Tripadvisor as we haven’t verified them ourselves!

Redwings Ada Cole

Lee Valley - Caravan Park and Campsite, Chingford

Manor of Groves - Idyllic hotel in Hertfordshire countryside

Marriott Hotel - Luxury hotel chain in Waltham Abbey

Redwings Aylsham

Courtyard Barns - Self-catering converted barns in Skeyton

Marsham Arms Inn - Traditional 19th century inn, Hevingham

Top Farm - Camping and Caravan site, Marsham

Redwings Caldecott

Decoy Barn - Rooms including breakfast, Fritton

Kensington Hotel - Beautiful hotel in the heart of Great Yarmouth

Park Dean - Holiday Park with caravans and lodges, Great Yarmouth

Redwings Oxhill

Ettington Chase - Luxury hotel in Stratford Upon Avon

Peace Haven - Self-catering Holiday Cottages in Honeybourne

Swan Inn - Friendly pub with rooms in Kineton

Redwings Mountains

Church house - B&B in Kirriemuir

Kinnettles Castle – Stunning castle in Forfar  

Adopting

When will I receive my adoption pack?

We aim to send your pack as quickly as possible and you can usually expect it to arrive within five working days. However, delivery can take up to 21 days, especially in busy times, so please be patient.

How do I renew my adoption?

Renewing online is easy! Simply log in, or create an account if you have not logged in before, then select your Adoption Star from the Make a New Friend page and follow the instructions to make your payment.

And you can always pop into your local Redwings Visitor centre to renew in person, or call us on 01508 481000. There are so many ways to keep your friendship going, so however you choose to renew, thank you!

How do I access my adoption friend’s online diary?

To access your friend’s online diary, you need to log in online.

If you have not logged in before you will need to create an account. You can do this by clicking ‘Log In’/ ‘Create Account’ next to the basket at the top of your screen.

Once you have logged in you enter your authentication code in the ‘Add an Adoption Code’ box. You can find your authentication code on your letter from Redwings.

How do I visit my adoption friend?

For the latest details on how to visit your Adoption friend, please click here

What is an authentication code and how do I get one?

An authentication code will give you access to your adopted friend’s online diary. Everyone who purchases a new adoption will receive one. Your code will be sent to you in the post along with your adoption pack.

If you visited us at a visitor centre and took your pack home with you, we will soon send you a letter with your code on so keep an eye out for your letter in the post!

If you are an existing adopter you can request an authentication code from us by emailing info@redwings.co.uk or calling 01508 481000. We will automatically send you an authentication code when you renew.

Rehoming

What is the process involved in rehoming a Redwings horse?

Interested in rehoming a horse or pony from Redwings? Here’s how…

All applications are taken online to keep our administration costs down and also because we do not operate a waiting list. Our aim is to find the right home for the individual horse or pony, so we encourage you to view our horses available for rehoming and apply for the one you feel best suits you and your needs. When a horse or pony has received a certain number of applications, it will automatically be marked as ‘Under Negotiation’ while we sort through the applications to find the best possible home for them.

You cannot apply for a pony that is Under Negotiation but if no suitable home is found it may become available again in the future.

If your application is successful, we will ask you to undergo a home check to make sure you have the necessary facilities for your chosen horse or pony. Following a home check, you will then be invited to meet your chosen horse in its current location, and hopefully it'll be a match made in heaven!

Once rehomed, we will visit the horse after three months and again between six and 12 months to ensure they have settled in well and is receiving the correct care. We will retain ownership at all times and reserve the right to take back into our care any horse or pony who we are concerned about.

Some of Redwings’ ridden equines are recently backed so please note that they may not be suitable for novice riders. Also, if you are under 18 years old, please ask an adult to fill out the application on your behalf. We can only currently consider homes in Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex, Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire.

 

Shop

Delivery

We aim to despatch orders within five working days of receipt, however please allow up to 21 days for delivery in accordance with the Consumer Contracts Regulations. 

Our horses

Why do Redwings horses live out?

Our horses live out all year round (unless they are under veterinary care), because this is the most natural lifestyle for them. Horses are by nature outdoor animals and they thrive from the fresh air and exercise that this gives them, not to mention the companionship they get from being with their herd.

For our more elderly residents the freedom means they can stretch their legs and exercise as much or as little as they wish, while for the younger horses and ponies, they get to burn off all their excess energy and have fun!

Read more about how we care for our sanctuary residents in sanctuary care.

I’m coming to see my adopted horse, can I bring a treat for them?

Our horses love treats and you are welcome to bring carrots, apples or ginger biscuits! Unfortunately we are unable to allow visitors to feed the horses themselves but you can hand your treat in at reception and we will make sure it is enjoyed.

Our charity

I am thinking of setting up a horse sanctuary, what advice would you give me?

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.You can find out more information about what establishing and running a sanctuary involves or get in touch to talk it over with a member of our team.

How can I work for Redwings?

We advertise all our vacancies on this site – view our Work for us section.

Are your staff paid?

The majority of our staff are paid for their work. This is primarily because they work directly with our rescued horses who can be dangerous or difficult to handle because of their traumatic pasts. Working with them needs lots of training and so it is very difficult to bring volunteers into that environment. However, we do have a fantastic volunteer welfare network, which is really valuable to us and we hope to take on more volunteers in other areas of our work in the future – register your interest by emailing info@redwings.co.uk.

Why can we only visit Hapton on special occasions?

Our Hapton HQ is not a visitor centre, it is the base for our administration centre and it is also the site of our Horse Hospital and our rehoming centre. It is home to many of our more elderly or poorly residents and some can be very nervous, so they are not necessarily suited to a life in the public eye and really benefit from the peace and quiet that the centre can offer. However, we love to open the gates twice a year so you can have a sneak peek behind the scenes and find out more about our Hapton HQ and what makes us tick!

Where did the name ‘Redwings’ come from?

Redwings was originally named by our founder, Wendy Valentine and actually has no equine connection at all, being derived from the type of chickens that had been kept on the site where Redwings was established!

Are you linked with Redwings USA?

Redwings USA are an entirely separate organisation based in California. Their official name is Horse Power Sanctuaries but they chose to adopt the public name of ‘Redwings’ as a thank you to us after we worked with them to help them with their fundraising and welfare programmes. Find out more about Redwings USA.

Why are you a national and not an international charity?

Redwings was set up in 1984 as it was felt an organisation was needed to care for horses and ponies in the UK – this is our objective as registered with the Charity Commission and with over 1 million horses and ponies in the UK, we still have our work cut out 25 years on! 

I have an equine that I can’t look after anymore, will Redwings give it a home?

Redwings receives around 100 requests every month from people who would like to secure a future for their horse or pony within the Sanctuary. 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 and Redwings always advises owners and potential owners to think about and prepare for retirement from the outset.

I am worried that an equine I have seen is not being looked after properly, what should I do?

 Redwings operates a welfare helpline that will 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 ring or email us, whatever the situation. Calls 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 a network of Field Officers across the UK that can assess a situation of potential concern and take the matter forward if need be. We will also contact you to let you know that we are working to improve the situation or explain why no further action is needed or possible.

For more information on reporting an equine to Redwings welfare team, view our get in touch section.

I have seen an equine loose on the road, who do I contact?

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 a formal agreement with the county’s police force to collect and board straying equines until an owner can be found, which means that if anyone in Norfolk spots a stray equine, they still need to report the horse to the police, but that they will request Redwings’ help while they try to make contact with the owner. This was the first formal agreement of its kind in the country and has helped many equines since it was set up in 2006.

To find the contact number for your local police force, click here and click on the relevant county.

Can I bring a dog with me to the visitor centre?

Yes! We love dogs! You are more than welcome to bring your dog with you to any of our visitor centres, we just ask that it is kept on a lead at all times.

Helping us

I want to save you money on postage, how do I go about being removed from the mailing list?

No problem, please email info@redwings.co.uk and we'll remove you right away. Let us know if you'd rather receive our eNewsletters instead.

Do you get money from the Government?

No, we don’t receive any Government funding – we are a registered charity and are entirely dependent on donations from the public to keep us running. 

Can I leave you my horse in my Will?

We do run a Home in the Event of Death Scheme, which means you can secure your horse’s future should anything unforeseen occur. Find out more by emailing our Legacy Officer, legacies@redwings.co.uk

Do you sell /accept tack and horsey stuff?

Our rehoming team are always grateful for any donations of tack or horsey equipment, and anything they cannot make use of will be sold to raise money for the charity. Please send any donations to Redwings Horse Sanctuary, Hapton, Norwich, NR15 1SP.

I have a collection box in my shop, what do I do with it?

Once it’s full you need to empty it and take the contents along to your local post office. They can change it for a cheque or postal order for you, which you then need to send to us along with your name and address. We will then send you a receipt and a new label for your box, with grateful thanks!

Can I help by rescuing a horse for you?

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 helpline on 01508 481008. The best way to help Redwings is 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?

Worried about a horse?

What areas do we cover?

Our field officers are based at three locations in the UK: Norfolk, at our headquarters, Essex, at our Ada Cole visitor centre, and Warwickshire at our Oxhill centre.

Our Field Officers will try to assist with welfare concerns in these locations and some surrounding areas. If a situation is too far from where our field officers are based, we may direct you to a different organisation to contact.

What is a welfare concern?

A welfare concern is a specific and serious breach of the Animal Welfare Act (2006), where a horse is suffering or likely to suffer in a situation.

It is important to be as concise as possible when reporting a potential welfare concern. Some of the things which could constitute a welfare concern are listed below:

  • Weight issues. If a horse is very underweight or very overweight; underweight horses usually have protruding bones, overweight horses have fatty lumps on their body.
  • Lameness. The horse is struggling or reluctant to walk, limping, or refusing to place one or more feet on the ground
  • Injury or illness. The horse is dull, unresponsive, lying down more than usual or breathing heavily

Please note this list is not exhaustive, so if you see something you’re concerned about, please do not hesitate to contact us.

We don’t usually accept welfare reports via social media. Often posts can be misleading, inaccurate, and out of date. Therefore, we ask for first-hand information from people who can give details from their own experience and we would ask you to encourage anyone who you see posting such concerns on social media to contact us directly instead.

What constitutes an emergency? An emergency could be a horse which is in obvious and severe distress. It could be a horse which is in a situation where serious injury could be imminent (i.e. trapped somewhere), or a horse which is bleeding excessively, or has a broken limb.

Straying or loose horses on the highway: If a horse is loose on the road, please call the Police on 999.

Abandoned horses: There is a large-scale problem in the UK currently with horses being abandoned or fly-grazed. Because of the number of calls we receive about abandoned horses (76 calls involving 263 equines in 2019), we are unable in most cases to take in horses relating to abandonments. You can find advice about dealing with abandonments here.

Tethered horses: If you are concerned about a horse being tethered, but it does not meet any of the criteria listed above, please consider reading our advice about tethered horses.

If you are in any doubt and concerned about an equine please do not hesitate to contact us via phone 01508 481008 or email welfare@redwings.co.uk.

What happens next?

Once we receive a call, it is passed onto one of our field officers to investigate further. All our reports are triaged and responded to accordingly. If it is thought to be an emergency, our field officers will go out as soon as possible.

Our field officers are extremely knowledgeable in equine care and management, and have an amazing amount of experience in assessing and dealing with welfare concerns. Sometimes horses are kept in a way which you might disagree with, but their needs may still be being met – in these circumstances, there may be no action taken.

If an equine’s needs aren’t being met, our field officers will attempt to contact the owner of the equine to ascertain what actions may have already been taken. Sometimes, for example with horses which are ill or injured, they may already be under the care of a vet

When the situation is more serious, or the horse needs immediate and serious action, we will coordinate with the relevant authorities/organisations needed to improve the situation.

For more information about actions welfare organisations may or may not take, please have a look at our Equine Welfare and the Law here.

What should I do now?

It can be very difficult when you live in an area where you believe a horse is suffering in poor welfare, especially when we have assessed them and found that the equine’s situation only warrants some advice to the owner. Immediate action in the case of horse welfare is rare and difficult to coordinate, which can be frustrating for many people.

It is important that anyone who is concerned for a horse report it, and allow the relevant organisations to deal with the situation. Taking responsibility into your own hands (eg by feeding an equine yourself) can make it much more difficult for welfare organisations to intervene.

We recommend that members of the public do not feed horses without permission from the owner. You could be held liable if the horse has an adverse reaction, and feeding can remove essential evidence that could be used to permanently improve the horse’s welfare.

For more advice, please visit the Equine Welfare and Law page, or our article on feeding horses you don’t own, here.

I have a horse I need to rehome

Redwings Horse Sanctuary has always had rescue at its heart but in the past we did have some space to take in retired horses which were no longer fit for work. Over the years, we have increasingly been dealing with the fallout from a growing equine welfare crisis in the UK, meaning that our focus is solely on saving and protecting vulnerable and suffering equines.

Because of this shift, our sanctuary has largely become a home to horses which are unable to be rehomed, meaning that the space we have to accommodate new intakes is extremely limited. In order to continue our work alleviating the suffering of abused and neglected horses in the UK, any space we do have must prioritised for those horses.

We receive on average requests to rehome around 70 horses per month, which adds up to nearly 900 horses per year. We are simply unable to consider all of these requests; however you can still call or email us for advice about rehoming your horse; we may not be able to offer them a home, but we’re more than happy to discuss your individual situation and signpost to places you could go to for more help.