Six horse charities have come together to rescue a herd of 19 Shire horses being illegally fly-grazed in Bewdley, Worcestershire.
On Friday 10th November, Bristol-based charity HorseWorld joined forces with Redwings Horse Sanctuary, RSPCA, World Horse Welfare, Bransby Horses and the Blue Cross to round up the group which included mares and foals. During the 15-hour rescue operation, all 19 horses were successfully removed from the site.
Fly-grazing is a practice where horses are grazed on land without the landowner’s permission. Under the Control of Horses Act 2015 (England), ownership of the shire horses had been transferred to the landowner after notices were issued for the owner to claim the horses but were not answered. The landowner asked the charities for help as he was not able to provide the care these heavy horses require and with winter closing in, it was apparent that these horses would suffer if something was not done quickly.
“We were pleased to be able to offer a home to three of the horses” said HorseWorld’s Managing Director, Mark Owen. “When our charity was founded 65 years ago, heavy horses like this were common. Our charity began by offering homes to working horses that were being replaced by vehicles and machinery, in fact the first horse we ever rescued was a Shire horse called Ben. They are part of our heritage.
“Up until a couple of years ago we always had heavy horses at the farm but they are quite rare nowadays. I am surprised that such a large number of this valuable breed would just be left with no provision to get them through the winter. They will take a lot of love and care to bring them back up to full health. The youngest of the three horses in our care is really poorly at the moment. She has an infection and liver damage. Our vets are running tests to find the best way to treat her but it looks as though she will need quite a lot of veterinary attention for the foreseeable future. She is only two-years-old but is very quiet and clearly not well.
“Another of the mares is very elderly and quite arthritic so has had to have some pain medication in order to be able to lift her legs to have her hooves trimmed. She also has very few teeth. The dentist will be visiting them next week so I expect she will need some work done to try and save the teeth she has left. She will need to be fed a special veteran feed several times a day to keep her at a healthy weight as she will find the hay quite difficult to chew. She would really have struggled through the winter once the grass had run out if they had been left where they were. I doubt she would have made it till Spring. I am so pleased that HorseWorld, by working in partnership with other equine charities, were able to safeguard the future of all of these horses.
“We are hoping that visitors to our Open Days next year will be able to meet the horses. Anyone who would like to contribute towards their care in the meantime can donate via the HorseWorld website www.horseworld.org.uk or by calling 01275 893020.”